NERAM Bookclub 3: The Mountain by Drusilla Modjeska

The New England Regional Art Museum (NERAM) book club read The Mountain by Drusilla Modjeska (Penguin, 2013) in conjunction with the exhibition Piksa Nuigini: Photographs by Stephen Dupont.

The discussion responded to the following questions, with partcipants sharing their own insights and lived experiences of Papua New Guinea:

Both Rika and Leonard try to capture the people of Papua New Guinea, Rika with a camera and Leonard through anthropological film. What do you think the book is saying about such acts of representation?

How do you think this presence of colonial power shapes Rika and Leonard’s acts of filming and photography?

How do you think these dynamics play out in the Dupont exhibition?

At the centre of The Mountain is the love story between Rika and Aaron. What are some of the difficulties the couple face? What do you think the novel is trying to say about the relationship between Europeans and the people of Papua New Guinea via this central love story?

In the second half of the book, Jericho returns to the Mountain and the Fjords. What do you think the novel is trying to show about this character, who has family connections globally and often experiences dislocation when he thinks of home?

Modjeska describes The Mountain as a ‘passionate response’ to having known ‘this beautiful, heart-breaking country’ and its movement from the high expectations that preceded Independence in 1975 to the current realities of corruption, logging, and the too-often dysfunctional government. Do you agree that this is the work the book does?

 

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