Missile Paradise

Trade Paper
  • 372 pages
  • 5.5 x 8.25 inches
  • ISBN: 978-1632460097
  • 2016-04-01


“Tanner…who lived in the Marshall Islands and launched the Marshall Islands Story Project, brings this microcosm of human folly and valor to captivating realization with bracing insights, tangy humor, profound respect, and rebounding resonance.”—Booklist (Starred Review)

“A moving, ethnologically brilliant tale of imperialism and insularity, this is one of those rare novels that actually opens our eyes. Wonderful stuff.”—Joseph O’Neill, author of Netherland and The Dog

“Ron Tanner’s imagination astounds me. It’s been a long time since I’ve met a group of characters as uniquely flawed and uniquely enthralling as those who populate his fabulously tragicomic novel Missile Paradise. You will follow them to the ends of the earth to find out what happens–and I mean that just about literally.”Julia Glass, winner of the National Book Award, author of Three Junes

“Ron Tanner is a gripping and transformative writer and Missile Paradise is exactly the sort of novel I want to read, stepping away from America to look back at it with a fresh set of eyes and recalibrate the lens through which we define who we are.”Bob Shacochis, National Book Award winner, Pulitzer Prize nominee, author of The Woman Who Lost Her Soul

“Missile Paradise is a breathtaking example of narrative control, the way Ron Tanner so effortlessly weaves his threads together. This is a unique, complex, and compelling story–unlike anything I’ve read before.”—Kevin Wilson, author of The Family Fang

In the Marshall Islands, an island-nation in the middle of the Pacific Ocean that was once a testing ground for nuclear bombs, American engineers and programmers are making and testing missiles while their “hosts,” the indigenous Marshallese, sweep their streets and clean their houses. It’s 2004, the Iraq war is heating up, and 9/11 is fresh in everyone’s minds. Following four interconnected story lines—the meltdown of a burned-out cultural liaison who has “gone native” and bitterly resents his role in keeping the Marshallese down; a young programmer who has lost his leg in a reckless solo sailing journey; the struggles of a young widow with two children whose husband drowned in a mysterious diving accident; and the destructive spiral of a Marshallese teenager whose American girlfriend rejects him when she returns to the States—Missile Paradise is an extraordinary novel that deals with the major social and political issues of our time, including racism, represented by the relationship between the Americans who enjoy life on Kwajalein and the subservience of the native Marshallese, who live on the neglected and trash-strewn island of Ebeye; and climate change—the climax of the novel is a great storm and flood which forces the Marshallese on Ebeye to flee to Kwajalein.

Ron Tanner’s awards for writing include a Faulkner Society gold medal, a Pushcart Prize, a New Letters Award, a Best of the Web Award, a Maryland Arts Council grant, and many others. He is the author of A Bed of Nails (stories), Kiss Me Stranger (illustrated novel), and From Animal House to Our House (memoir). He teaches writing at Loyola University-Maryland and directs the Marshall Islands Story Project.