It is my pleasure to introduce readers to Ronald Wright’s masterpiece, On Fiji Islands. In this work the author weaves his interests in history and ethnology into a visceral depiction of late 20th century Fiji.
As the Washington Post proclaimed in a 1986 review:
THIS IS A FINE TRAVEL BOOK, PERSONAL WITHOUT BEING PRETENTIOUS, OPEN·EYED WITHOUT BEING NAIVE, AND I’LL GLADLY TRAVEL WITH WRIGHT.
That said, the Fiji of the early to mid-1980s is different place than the Fiji of today. (That’s the subject of a whole different book!)
It is significant that OFI was first published (in the U.S.) in 1986, on the cusp of the political upheavals that began with the 1987 coup and still echo.
Thankfully, Fiji is once more a democracy with a flourishing tourism industry that is the envy of the South Pacific.
Back in the days prior to political unrest, the old Fiji Visitors Bureau slogan was, “Fiji, the Way the World Should Be”.
It seemed to summarize the bullish sentiment felt by many of us. Things looked rosy in those days.
The Fiji dollar was strong, sugar was still king and there was optimism that tourism would soon gather momentum and raise the standard of living for everyone. Fiji had only become an independent state in 1970 and the nascent optimism of new nation was in the air.
That’s the snapshot of the era that Ron Wright captures.
A few editorial notes for the reader. In addition to the author’s prose, we’ve added photos that are intended to complement the text.
From time to time we may also add footnotes to the author’s commentary where needed. For example, if he references a hotel or place of business that no longer exists, this will be noted.