Pub Writes

About the publishing Industry, editorials, and reviews

One Big Damn Puzzler by John Harding

Posted by Caitie F on April 7, 2014

Title: One Big Damn Puzzler465853
Author: John Harding
Paperback: 512 pages
Pub Date: March 27, 2007
Publisher: Harper Perennial
Rating: ++++

Summary from pub:

On an island paradise somewhere in the South Pacific, Managua—the only native who can read or write—is busily translating Hamlet into pidgin English when a plane interrupts his noble work. Strapping on his false leg, he makes his way to the landing strip to greet the unexpected arrival: William Hardt, a young American lawyer driven by his misguided ambition to win reparations for the island’s inhabitants.

Hardt is not the first white outsider to pay a visit; the British came earlier, bringing their language, the small pigs that run wild in the jungle, and Shakespeare . . . and the Americans followed with guns, land mines, and Coca-Cola. But in this place of riotously logical ritual, Hardt’s determined quest to do good could make him the most devastating visitor of all.


In my quest to read a wider variety of books, I picked this book up from my husband’s shelf. It looked really intriguing and I had just given up on a classic that I “had to read” and couldn’t get past page 20 because it was so pretentious.

This book was such a better choice. And the funny thing is – it turned out to have similar themes, just minus the whole “aren’t I clever?” tone.

This is a really funny book at times. Laugh out loud funny even! It is also a pretty smart book – it takes a satirical look at Western countries dropping in on other areas in the world when they need to and leaving without dealing with the consequences. It is a book that will make you think, but the story is entertaining too.

The best part about this book are all the twists, surprises, and slowly learning about these fantastic characters, so I won’t spoil it for you.

There were a couple sections that dragged a little and some plot points that felt a little heavy-handed, but overall it is a great book if you are looking for a satire that is a little different.




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