Surviving Paradise

survive160Peter Rudiak-Gould has authored a travel memoir about the Marshall Islands, one of the low-lying Pacific nations which will soon be uninhabitable due to sea level rise caused by climate change. Surviving Paradise: One Year on a Disappearing Island tells of Peter’s experiences as the only foreigner on a third-of-a-square-mile, ocean-flat tropical island, teaching at a school where 14-year-olds ask how to spell “I” and the only pencil sharpeners are rocks. It’s the portrait of a society that may not be around for much longer: a hybrid culture in which Marshallese villagers fish with fiberglass spears, sport names like “Bobson,” “Tax Collector,” and “Shisminta,” and recite native botanical remedies and Backstreet Boys lyrics with equal ease. In the book’s final chapter, Rudiak-Gould confronts the threat of climate change.