The Missionaries by Owen Stanley

The Missionaries is a story of the collision of three cultures. A
brilliant tale of ineptitude, self-righteousness, and human folly, it
combines the mordant wit of W. Somerset Maugham with a sense of humor
reminiscent of P.G. Wodehouse.

When Dr. Sydney Prout is named the head of the United Nations
mission to Elephant Island, he believes he is more than ready to meet
the challenge of guiding its primitive inhabitants into the
post-Colonial era, and eventually, full independence. But neither his
many academic credentials nor the
Journal of Race Relations have
prepared Dr. Prout to reckon with the unrepentant bloody-mindedness of
the natives, or anticipate the inventive ways their tribal philosophers
will incorporate the most unlikely aspects of modern civilization into
their religious lore and traditional way of life.

Author Owen Stanley is an Australian explorer, a philosopher, and a
poet who speaks seven languages. He is at much at home in the remote
jungles of the South Pacific as flying his Staudacher aerobatic plane,
deep-sea diving, or translating the complete works of Charles Darwin
into Tok Pisin.

We release a book or two every month, up to five or six if you include print editions and audiobooks. And while I always put up posts here to let you know about them, I seldom play favorites or make a hard pitch for a particular book.

But if you read just one Castalia House book, The Missionaries is the one you really ought to read. It is, in the collective opinion of everyone at Castalia involved in the production, one of the two best books we have published to date, the other one being John C. Wright’s Awake in the Night Land, if not the best.

The Missionaries is not science fiction. It is not military strategy. It is neither history nor political philosophy, and while it does contain a single reference to gardening, it definitely isn’t anything an expert gardener such as David the Good would recommend. We didn’t even have an internal category in which to list the book except “fiction”. It’s the first purely literary novel we’ve published, and yet, it is exactly the sort of book Castalia House was created to publish in the first place, the kind of book that no other publisher would ever dare to touch. The Missionaries is a satirical novel in the vein of Evelyn Waugh or Joseph Heller and it is not an exaggeration to say it is capable of one day being considered a classic.

Owen Stanley’s debut novel is intelligent, it is erudite, it is educated, it is almost astonishingly offensive to delicate modern political sensibilities, and above all, it is funny. One would have to either be perfectly politically correct or totally devoid of any sense of humor to read this book without occasionally finding oneself laughing aloud, usually in disbelief. If you are a reader, then you must read this book. Seriously, it’s that good.

But you need not take my word for it. From the early reviews of The Missionaries:

  • The author, Owen Stanley, writes in a rich, flamboyant style that I
    associate with the best early to mid-20th century writers, but without
    overdoing it and spoiling the story with grandiose verbiage. 
  • The work at hand is strongly recommended as thought-provoking, crafted
    with tremendous skill and control, brilliant in its choice of targets,
    and uproariously absurd.
  •  The Missionaries is both a rollicking, rip-roaring, old-fashioned great white
    hunter adventure as well as a hilariously stinging modern satire.
  •  It’ll probably be the funniest book you read all year. 
  • This one is Castalia’s best yet.

UPDATE: Thank you! The Missionaries is now the #1 bestseller in Literary Satire.