in Canada as The Last
The best non-fiction book I have read so far this year
embrace of myth-making — religious, secular and political
New York Times
Taylor Prize for Literary Non-fiction 2005
Shark God, a travel story as dark and twisted as one might ever
wish to hear … reaches a superb climax with some apocalyptically
page-turning scenes. In
this savage environment, where life is sandwiched between fire-breathing
volcanoes and giant ocean waves, the people grab all the mythic
help they can, spinning life-saving rafts from all the spiritual
flotsam and jetsam that the world throws at them. I finished this
book with a deep respect for their wisdom and common sense."
the full review here
both traveler and writer, Montgomery is a thoughtful and entertaining
guide, and his story has rich layers of history and anthropology.
… “The Shark God” is an embrace of myth-making — religious, secular
and political. 'Myth, like love, is a decision,' Montgomery writes.
'What it answers is longing. What it demands is faith. What it opens
the full review here
The Shark God is, in short, a challenging, exhilarating ride and
read. Spiritual affairs in Melanesia prove to be as rich, weird,
squalid, violent and engrossing as just about anything else on God's
earth….go out and buy what is the best non-fiction book I have read
so far this year.
Peregrine, The Telegraph
the full review here
written and utterly astounding....A study in the transforming power
of myth, and the unpredictable consequences of colliding cultures,
The Last Heathen is superb."
this voyage into the unknown, intensely described in rich and varied
prose, Montgomery discovers extraordinary mythologies, unsettling
rites and feverish kastom maintained by bizarre characters.
These are vivid portraits that leap off the page. This uniquely
disturbing travel book should be required reading for anyone with
a sense of unease at the development of the modern world.
of the Royal Geographic Society)
irresistable adventure in discovery, a journey into rough terrain
and a revelation of the power of ancestral stories across cultural
Taylor Prize for Literary Non-fiction
Last Heathen won the Charles Taylor Prize for 2005)
this sprawling, complicated book that has at its narrative heart
the impossibly difficult corner of the world called Melanesia, comes
a display of a very real and memorable new talent. … a script as
delicate and impressively beautiful as any essay of exploration
that I have read in recent years. ...The endurance he displayed
on his travels was admirable, the adventures he survived were tremendous,
and the quality of his prose seems matched only by the wisdom of
Globe and Mail
the full review
Montgomery is a great reporter with inborn faculties of empathy
and understanding for the culture and psychology of the
people he meets in his fascinating journey.”
of The Emperor and Shah of Shahs
Shark God offers a heady blend of history, memoir, and anthropology.
exquisite writing, Montgomery lovingly captures the beauty and the
horrors, the mysteries and the shams of the people and places he
visits. His is a skeptical eye, and Montgomery is resistant to the
miracles the people wish to show him, which admittedly are not terribly
convincing, but he doggedly persists, seeking to be convinced of
though Charles Montgomery lays bare the truth behind the romantic
notions we have long held about the South Pacific — a fiction of
noble savages and exoticism that spanned his own great grandfather's
missionary work to Robinson Crusoe, all the way up to the
present day with the Trader Vic's/Tiki Lounge/headhunter kitsch
of Survivor — he is no kill joy, skillfully managing to imbue his
tale with suspense, sadness, wonder, and grace. The Shark God is
just a hair-raisingly good read. "
of Don't Get Too Comfortable
observations on these conflicting and complementary faiths are as
insightful as his adventures are breathtaking. This beautifully
written snapshot of cultures struggling to exist in the modern world
as they both overcome and adapt to outside influences is recommended
for all public and academic libraries.
of the year's 100 best books
The Globe and Mail
of the top 25 non-fiction books of the year
new voice of great skill with an acute sense of adventure, a feeling
for people and place, and a thirst for discovery…An extraordinary
debut: well researched, compellingly written, self-revelatory and
deeply sensitive to the varied truths of the South Pacific world
Davis, National Geographic explorer-in-residence, author of The
Serpent and the Rainbow and One River
far the best book of the whole year, perhaps in any field. ... Adventurous,
thorough in his research — the history is as
compelling as the journey — and sensitive to the customs and character
of the people he meets, Montgomery has produced a remarkable work.
you seek only one gift this Christmas, ask that it be The Last
of the most thought-provoking accounts of contemporary religion
published in the last few years"
fantastic cast of characters populate this book, and Montgomery
is as adept chronicling his often unpleasant journey as he is discussing
the dark implications of myth, magic and belief."
the many reasons to vigorously recommend The Last Heathen ... perhaps
none is more persuasive than Montgomery's quietly astonishing way
with words...an immensely fulfilling read."
mythic work [that] helps readers understand their place in the world
and their relationships with one another."