RICE WINE by Barry Came


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In Came's first novel--set in Marcos-era Philippines--geopolitical forces duke it out at the village level when a capitalist dam threatens ancient ways of life. Callow American bureaucrat Paul Stenmark lands in the Philippines with every expectation of approving construction of a series of dams to be financed by his lending agency. The dams would not only generate a fortune in electricity; they would also create seven times the land suitable for growing rice that is currently available from an ancient system of terraces and irrigation ditches. Everything he sees at first confirms Stenmark's original opinion, so he is particularly annoyed to discover that Frank Enright, the missionary priest who has been in the valley for 20 years, and Alfredo, the enormously powerful head tribesman, are united in their staunch opposition to the dams, firmly convinced that the present way of existence is vastly preferable to that which would replace it. To Stenmark's chagrin, the only person who seems to support his agency's project is the shamelessly corrupt and sadistic Colonel Resales, commander of the local army outpost and a fierce supporter of the rotten national government. Stenmark's opinions are further yanked around when he is whisked from the heart of a terrifying guerrilla action to the glossy wardrooms of Subic Bay as all the big players try to get their two cents in on the decision-making process. Action and adventure swirling around a strong moral core. Very well done.

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1987
Publisher: Weidenfeld & Nicolson