Repurposing Fantasy Island: Lani Wendt Young’s Telesā Series and the Politics of Postcolonial Romance

Publication year
Interventions: International Journal of Postcolonial Studies

The pagination of the quotes I give below the abstract will probably change once the article appears within a specific issue of the journal. Here's the abstract:

This essay focuses on the YA paranormal romance series Telesā by Samoan writer Lani Wendt Young to discuss how the author repurposes generic conventions to portray island identities and material realities as nuanced and complex. This is accomplished by revising three key island tropes prevalent in western popular narratives about the Pacific: the island as a lush and exotic paradise, the island as a place of sexual freedom, and the island as a site of danger and adventure. The novels create a culturally specific fantasy world which amplifies the scope of popular fiction and is also capable of implementing a postcolonial, feminist and ecocritical agenda, offering discussions of gender violence, neocolonialism and the impact of climate change in the region.


In its environmentalist outlook, the series can be read as part of the expanding global body of climate change fiction, and more specifically as a key addition to the body of Indigenous Pacific literature which condemns Oceania’s devastation and degradation, either as a result of colonial exploitation, militarization, nuclearization, or climate change. (13)


Ultimately, the novels work as eco-romances, with the successful resolution of the love story and the restoration of the natural order working as mutually dependent. (15)