Nothing But Rainforest (72,000 words)

‘Nothing But Rainforest’ examines the horrors of violence against women in Papua New Guinea and the effect it has on a volunteer teacher from England, his African American predecessor and a Papua New Guinean woman from the coast.

Set in a remote part of the Highlands, first exposed to the outside world in the 1930s, Simon Jones, a twenty-seven-year-old volunteer teacher from England discovers his predecessor, Marcus Johnson, had vanished two months earlier. After seeing a corpse in the jungle resembling his predecessor, he is worried he will suffer the same fate.

Simon is the only foreigner and feels increasingly lonely and isolated until Evelyn, a primary teacher from the coast, shows an interest in him. As their relationship progresses, she reassures him that Johnson must have returned to America. Their relationship becomes difficult when men discourage her from visiting him. Simon thinks he can reason with them which creates more issues for Evelyn. As the extent of violence towards women becomes more apparent, he struggles to stop it from affecting him.

Simon and Evelyn are shocked when they hear that Johnson’s family have filed a missing person’s report. After Johnson’s father and brother visit Simon, he realises his predecessor was also affected by violence against women and had been threatened by men from a nearby village. Against Evelyn’s advice, he is determined to find out what happened to Johnson which puts him in imminent danger.

‘Nothing But Rainforest’ is in the territory chartered by Conrad in the ‘Heart of Darkness’ and by Alex Garland in ‘The Beach’. It would appeal to readers who want stories that address social injustice in the developing world such as ‘The Poisonwood Bible’ by Barbara Kingsolver and ‘Mister Pip’ by Lloyd Jones.

First page of 'Nothing But Rainforest'