When academic theories collide with practical reality, fun is had by all and sundry. The Missionaries is a hilarious book that will have you turning the page to see how badly a UN bureaucrat’s quest to modernize a distant tribe can go — and believe me, it goes really wrong. It shows the limits of the academic way of thinking while making you laugh all the way.
In the book, Dr. Prout is on a mission from the UN to develop the tribes of Elephant Island. As he does this, he finds himself going up against Roger Fletcher, a local administrator who prefers to let the tribes live as they always have, with him smoothing over any disputes. Despite Fletcher’s crude behavior and jokes about the natives’ culture, he clearly understands and respects them on a fundamental level. Dr. Prout, on the other hand, strides in like a know-it-all, spouting a mix of UN propaganda and left-wing orthodoxy while making no effort to understand the people in front of him. Most of the book’s humor comes from the collision of Fletcher’s practicality and Prout’s theoretical thinking…. I would proudly say that I loved the book. Highly recommended.
While you’re on Nyanzi’s site, I recommend having a look at his interesting take on proposition nations and the problem with them.
Some other comments about The Missionaries by reviewers.
- A fun read that reminds me of Voltaire’s Candide.
- This book is absolutely hilarious and a must buy. 6 stars out of 5.
- I cannot praise the craftsmanship that went into the plot too highly; the entire novel is as tight-knit as a Chekov short story.
- The way the bureaucrat reinterprets everything to fit his academic theories will leave you rolling on the floor.
- HitchHikers Guide meets social justice warriors in a United Nations 3rd world development project.
I think it should now be clear that we have not exaggerated, in the least, how good this book is. If you haven’t picked up a copy yet, you really, truly, should. When readers are openly comparing it to Voltaire, Chekov, and Douglas Adams, you know it is a classic-in-the-making.