Hunting the Gugu

In search of the Lost Ape-men of Sumatra

Hearing tales of an apeman, the "Orang pendek" of Sumatra, Benedict sets off in search of the truth. Along the way he muses on the origins of the human race and our belief in such creatures - the yeti, bigfoot, fairy - around the remote world. While on the elusive ape-man's trail, he visits the Mentawai of Siberut and the Kubu of mainland Sumatra, and these people gradually help him narrow his search. However, things are not as straight forward as they might seem...

BA's comment: "My third book, and in some ways the most simple and straight forward of the first four – with few of the traumas experienced on the journeys before and after. However, I was here investigating the power of myths, and exploring the story-telling process, and I like to think that there's more to the book than a simple fool-hardy quest after a hairy little man living in the mountains of Sumatra! Those wanting a scientific appraisal of the evidence regarding the orang pendek – which many still very much believe in (the book itself has launched several expeditions) will be disappointed. I was not so much interested in running the creature to ground, or coming to a definitive yes/no answer about its existence, but more about the nature of belief itself and how we made gods of the things around us, even giving extremely evasive or imaginary things power over ourselves."

1989

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