Jack London in Paradise
By Paul Malmont
Simon & Schuster; 386 pages; $25
Reviewed by Christine Thomas
Writing about Hawai`i within the context of history offers writers less chance of error and more artistic leeway. In his new historical novel “Jack London in Paradise: A Novel,” Paul Malmont soars on the wings of Jack London’s personal history, the first fictional work about this American literature icon, set against the backdrop of early-1900s Hawai`i.
London is presented as a riveting hero—macho, adventurous and inherently curious even while struggling with illness and financial trouble in the final months of his life. As if that re-imagined life weren’t enjoyable enough, Malmont also courageously though at times romantically resurrects Hawaiian life, complete with a captivating Queen Lili`uokalani, Duke’s beachboys, surfing, Kamehameha’s Nu`uanu Pali battle, and more.
Malmont even matches London’s adventurousness with his own via insinuations about who was responsible for London’s death, and whether or not London’s wolf nature lives on in the islands today. Perfectly detailed and well researched, the novel offers entry to a complete and irresistible dream where following one’s passion delivers the world.