An entry in The Crocodile Prize
Ok Tedi Mining Book of the Year
LEONARD Fong Roka, who is emerging as Papua New Guinea’s most prolific author, has submitted his Bougainville civil war memoir, Brokenville, for the recently-established Ok Tedi Mining Book of the Year award.
It is the sixth book entered in this inaugural award and joins Michael Dom’s poetry collection At Another Crossroads, Sil Bolkin’s history The Flight of Galkope, Francis Nii’s novel Fitman, Raitman & Cooks, and two other collections – one of poetry, one of short stories – by Leonard Roka.
Judges Dame Carol Kidu, Trevor Freestone and Phil Fitzpatrick certainly have their hand full with three months still remaining before the closing date for entries.
“It was my long dream to tell of my experiences during the crisis,” Roka told me, “and finally it is here.
“I can touch the book and my children and all Bougainvilleans coming behind will see and read it.”
In Brokenville Roka documents his own story, which as Dr Kristian Lasslett has pointed out, “is also the story of the conflict, its complex fault lines, its barbarity, and the courage of everyday people who survived a decade of fighting.”
“For us Bougainvilleans,” said Roka, “we still have to tell our stories of the crisis from 1988-1997 so future generations know who we really are and make proper decisions that will positively affect our island.”
Lasslett writes in a Foreword: “In the book’s most heart wrenching chapter, Leonard recounts how his father died at the hands of the rebels. Only a writer of Leonard’s calibre could have relayed a personal story of such profound loss, with unflinching realism.
“Brokenville is a window into a boy (now a man), a family, a conflict, a people, and a struggle.”