Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Books: Little Princes

So I finished reading Little Princes: One Man’s Promise to Bring Home the Lost Children of Nepal by Conor Grennan.

Let me preface what I will write by saying that the non-profit founded by the author seems to be doing legitimate, on-going work in Nepal – building homes for trafficked children and working to reunite these children with their families. I want to be clear in acknowledging that there may be good, that lives may have been improved, by the work that Grennan and his colleagues have done and are doing.

That said, there’s still plenty in this book which absolutely infuriated me. For example, I read it cover to cover and yet rarely found accounts in which Greene sought the advice of, asked help from, did research on, consulted experts about, or basically acknowledged that there were likely many other people who knew more about the complexities and nuances of the problem he had decided he would solve. The book is about one man’s self-directed plan to address child trafficking in Nepal – and yet I was never convinced that this was a man who clearly understood the complexities of the problem or who thought through the ramifications of the ‘solutions’ he came up with.

The book builds to a climax in which Grennan travels in a remote region of Nepal to find the families of children who had been trafficked. But then the narrative derails into the recounting of his budding romance with an American woman and we never get a satisfactory account of what exactly happens to the families and the children. What was the fallout??

He also claims victory in having found the 24 families he sought during this trip, without really acknowledging that it was the 7 Nepali men guiding him who found each family – men who would trek up mountainsides while Grennan waited at the bottom, who would scour the villages while he dozed on the path. The arrogance of it all often made me want to toss the book down – and I certainly have ranted plenty in these last two blogs and in recent conversations.

I won’t carry on any more. At least it’s given me something to talk about.

1 comment:

  1. For an interesting tonic, with some short funny anecdotes about the opposite end of the scale (aid centrally planned by big city experts), I recommend "The Sex Lives of Cannibals: Adrift in the Equatorial Pacific" by J. Maarten Troost.