PANJAMON by Jean Yves Domalain

PANJAMON

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Domalain, a venturesome young French zoologist set out for Borneo one fine day to study the habits of two antediluvian reptiles, the Komodo lizard and the sphenodon. He got more adventure than he bargained for when he became the captive-guest of some Iban tribesmen who had only recently renounced headhunting -- and maybe not absolutely. . . . Ignorant of tribal etiquette he commits a social faux pas which obliges him to marry the chieftain's pubescent daughter. Worse follows, including the palek, an initiation rite which involves being tossed into a pit where thousands of red ants feast on his naked body. But Domalain, a free spirit, quite enjoys his new life and wife until the local medicine man decides to avenge an old grudge by poisoning him. . . prompting a precipitous escape. But fortified by plenty of tuak (the local home brew), he remains suave and lighthearted re his acculturation to Stone Age ways. Domalain knows he's got a helluva good story to tell and he's not about to spoil it with any lugubrious cross-cultural moralizing. The book was a best seller in France, and since it fulfills everyone's wildest fantasy of going native, it may do well here too. Recognizing that ""the basic problem was simply that they were yellow and primitive and I was white and civilized,"" Domalain makes a comedy of horrors out of his jungle sojourn, and brazens his way through keeping both his sang-froid and head.

Pub Date: Jan. 29th, 1972
Publisher: Morrow