Peter Rudiak-Gould
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Cover imagePublisher's synopsis
A cultural castaway writes winningly of life on a remote island in the Pacific that may be one of global warming’s first casualties. Just one month after his twenty-first birthday, Peter Rudiak-Gould moved to Ujae, a remote atoll in the Marshall Islands located 70 miles from the nearest telephone, car, store, or tourist, and 2000 miles from the closest continent. He spent the next year there, living among its 450 inhabitants and teaching English to its schoolchildren. At first blush, Surviving Paradise is a thoughtful and laugh-out-loud hilarious documentation of Rudiak-Gould’s efforts to cope with daily life on Ujae as his idealistic expectations of a tropical paradise confront harsh reality. But Rudiak-Gould goes beyond the personal, interweaving his own story with fascinating political, linguistic and ecological digressions about the Marshall Islands. Most poignant are his observations of the noticeable effect of global warming on these tiny, low-lying islands and the threat rising water levels pose to their already precarious existence. Surviving Paradise is a disarmingly lighthearted narrative with a substantive emotional undercurrent.
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Awards and praise
Book of the Month, National Geographic Traveler, November 2009

Shortlisted, William Saroyan International Prize for Writing, 2010

"An extraordinarily engaging diary-portrait of a 21st-century castaway uncovering the everyday riches, enduring frustrations, and confounding contradictions of life in a South Pacific paradise."
-National Geographic Traveler (Full review here

"Alternatively hilarious, emotional and thought eye-opening look into a beautiful yet harsh paradise far from the reaches of tourism."
-Publishers Weekly (Full review here)

"This entertaining memoir reads like a novel....The perfect book for readers of fish-out-of-water travel memoirs."

"Utterly unexpected, vivid, and blessedly funny."
-Ernest Callenbach, author of the bestselling Ecotopia and Publisher’s Lunch 

"In Surviving Paradise, Peter Rudiak-Gould has pulled off the improbable: turning a year spent on a remote Pacific island the size of a shopping mall into a memorable, moving narrative."
-Tony Cohan, author of On Mexican Time and Mexican Days

"With an eye for humor that is fresh and surprising, Peter Rudiak-Gould lays out the delightful ironiesand the vexing conundrumsof life in a traditional culture on the brink of change. His tales from the edge of the world are at times deeply moving, quite often stunningly insightful, and consistently hilarious. I found myself grinning by page two."
-Sarah Erdman, author of Nine Hills to Nambonkaha: Two Years in the Heart of an African Village

"There's magic at work here. Not until late in the bookafter he has seduced you with his humor, poetic prose, and elegant observations about life on a drowning tropical islanddo you realize that the window Rudiak-Gould has been holding open and allowing you to peek through is not actually a window, but a brilliantly-disguised mirror."
-Brad Newsham, author of Take Me With You: A Round-the-World Journey to Invite a Stranger Home

"Peter Rudiak-Gould transcends and defies every travel-memoir cliché (i.e. ‘I went there to save them, but it was they who saved me’), reinventing the notion of what travel writing can accomplish. From his rollicking adventures in spear fishing to his efforts to master the Marshallese language, Rudiak-Gould has written a dynamic narrative of personal and global transformation that's a joy from departure to arrival."
-Liza Monroy, author of Mexican High

"At once a travel narrative, a personal memoir, and an anthropological excursion, Surviving Paradise is also an utterly charming, often very funny account of a young man's surreal immersion in a relatively traditional Pacific culture."
-Lawrence Millman, author of Last Places: A Journey in the North

"Peter Rudiak-Gould went looking for the biggest adventure in the most faraway place he could imagine. His boyish enchantment with mystery itself matured into a thoughtful appreciation of the people he came to know on a primitive island. The resulting memoir is sensitive, funny and true."
-Sharon Dirlam, author of Beyond Siberia: Two Years in a Forgotten Place

More reviews
Minneapolis Star Tribune, Christian Science Monitor, Boston Globe, Washington Times,, At Home with Books, South Pacific blog, Jason's Travels, Basil and Spice, Travel Junkie, Vagablogging, Travel Wonders, The Planet D, Mindful Tourist, A Bookworm's World, Toronto Reads, Professional Hobo, Barbara J. King, Wandering Educators, Everett Potter, Dick Jordan, Gadling, Travel Tart, Almost Fearless, Book Passage

All content © Peter Rudiak-Gould 2015 except where otherwise stated