When I read the first page of Epeli Hau’ofa’s novel Kisses in the Nederends, after I promptly re-read it aloud to my roommate and eventually stopped laughing I could not imagine how any of this could possibly relate to anything we had previously read or discussed in class. I continued to ponder that question as I read the next six chapters and when I closed the book I still had no idea. It wasn’t until I began flipping through my notebook that it hit me: it relates to everything. If all of the authors of post-colonial literature are trying to invite the reader in to understand their culture and open up the universe to see that we aren’t all that different from each other, do it the same way children do it: laugh at perfectly normal bodily functions.
I may be generalizing a little, but I believe it’s safe to say that almost nobody enjoys the taste of their own breath in the morning, let alone the smell of someone else’s. And farting is a classic—often uncomfortable but always funny. Hau’ofa opens his story with this and the reader cannot help but read on to see what could possibly be made of this. Intertwined with the humorous descriptions of Oilei’s ailment are familiar references to the clashing of cultures and disputes that come inevitably with modernization and globalization and general transculturation that we have seen in all of the previous works. From the importance of education abroad, the desire to hold on to tradition and the misunderstanding of modern and traditional forms of medicine Hau’ofa succeeds in portraying a culture that is facing the same exact issues that are being encountered throughout the world as technology brings the world closer and closer together.