I can certainly understand why Terry Pratchett’s novel NATION won so many awards and received so much critical acclaim. It’s set in a parallel world to ours that has enough changes that he can do what he likes with certain elements of history including a flu epidemic making one of his young characters second in line for the throne of England. It addresses loss and belief, justice and self-sacrifice. It’s also very, very funny.
Most of the action takes place on a South Sea Island after a devastating tsunami sweeps across the island where Mau has grown up. Since everyone was on the beach waiting for his return from his manhood ceremonies, all of his friends and family were killed.
As always Terry Pratchett knows how to turn both a funny and a serious phrase. Here’s one thought that I especially liked, but I’ve returned the book and can’t look it up: “One person is alone: two people make a nation.”