‘Kisses in the Nederends’ is a novel penned by a Tongan-Fijian author, Epeli Hau’ofa. It is set on a fictional Pacific island named Tipota and tells the story of Oilei Bomboki and his painful and rather embarrassing problem.
One morning Oilei Bomboki, a much respected landowner and a very important man, wakes up with a terrible pain in his backside. Pain so excruciating that he has no choice but to seek immediate help.
In search of a cure Oilei visits various healers and doctors, none of whom seems to be able to relieve his agony. Desperate but not without hope, he finally learns to love his body as well as accept the situation he has found himself in.
There is absolutely no doubt that Epeli Hau’ofa was – and always will be – one of the greatest Pacific writers. His talent, wit, and intellect were beyond superlatives. I dare say that only him could produce a book – an extraordinary book, may I add – about… an anus.
‘Kisses in the Nederends’ is not a novel for the faint-hearted. If you lack a sense of humour, if you’re a bit too prim and proper, or if you simply don’t like reading about other people’s arses, then you may want to choose some other title. If you, however, don’t mind a little crudeness, then you will enjoy this slim volume.
Although it may seem that this novel is predominantly about Oilei’s health issue, it is not. After all, why would anyone decide to write a story about an intimate part of the human’s body without giving it a deeper meaning? For fun? Well, Epeli Hau’ofa was too much of an author extraordinaire to do that. In his book, an anus constitutes a metaphor. He said in the interview with Subramani: ‘(…) it is a metaphor for society and for everything else I could think of’. I admit, it is a rather unusual metaphor, but one that certainly attracts attention.
It is not a secret that Pacific societies are full of taboos and prohibitions. Certain things aren’t even thought about, not to mention discussed publicly. An anus is a very apt representation of the Islanders’ (or anyone’s!) fears and avoidances. We can easily talk about our arms and legs, but somehow we aren’t so keen on chatting about the opening in our bottoms. As a reader you get the feeling that through Oilei’s story Epeli Hau’ofa wanted to show his fellow countrymen and people of Oceania that sometimes there is nothing to be afraid of; that not everything is bad and deserving of being despised. The protagonist of his story finally learns to love his anus; he learns to accept it as a beautiful part of his body. This is an obvious suggestion and a message for us all – whatever it is that you fear or loathe, get to know it first. And then, with time, maybe you will be able to change your attitude.
If you have read any of Epeli Hau’ofa’s books, you can imagine that this novel, too, is exceptionally well written. It is sharp, witty, comical. However – here’s the warning – some people may find it distasteful. The main character doesn’t mince his words, so you should be prepared for some foul language. But, this is exactly what makes the book raw and real.
‘Kisses in the Nederends’ is a very important title in the history of Pacific Literature. It is a must read. You may not like it, but you should – no, you have to – give it a try.