UnderCover Monday

Mr. Pip

author: Lloyd Jones

opening line: “Eveyone called him Pop Eye.”

Thank goodness, I read Great Expectations a few months before reading Mr. Pip. I found this wonderful, wonderful book at a Relay Store in Taiwan. The story is set somewhere in the Pacific and is most appropriate for Asian Pacific Heritage Month.

The first white my grandfather saw was a shipwrecked yachtsman who asked him for a compass. My grandfather didn’t know what a compass was, so he knew he didn’t have one. I picture him clasping his hands at this back and smiling. He wouldn’t want to appear dumb. The white man asked for a map. My grandfather didn’t know what he was asking for, and so pointed down at the man’s cut feet. My grandfather wondered how the sharks had missed that bait. The white man asked where he had washed up. At last my grandfather could help. He said it was an island. The white man asked if the island had a name. My grandfather replied with the word that means “island”. When the man asked directions to the nearest shop, my grandfather burst out laughing. He pointed up at a coconut tree and back over the white’s shoulder whence he had come, meaning the bloody great ocean stocked with fish. I have always like that story.

Shortlisted for the Man Booker prize and winner of the Commonweath Writers’ Prize Best Book Award.