Don't Stop the Carnival (novel)

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Don't Stop the Carnival
First edition
Author Herman Wouk
Cover artist Janet Gasson[1]
Country United States
Language English
Publisher Doubleday
Publication date
Media type Print (Hardback & Paperback)
Pages 395 pp
ISBN n/a
OCLC 25632993

Don't Stop the Carnival is a 1965 novel by American writer Herman Wouk. It is a comedy about escaping middle-age crisis to the Caribbean, a heaven that quickly turns into a hell for the main character. The novel was turned into a short-lived musical by Jimmy Buffett in 1997.


It's every man's dream at one point: to leave everyday life and reality behind, escape the rat race and start anew on a warm, sun-drenched remote paradise island, sipping indigenous liquor while the palm leaves rustle in the breeze.

The story in Don't Stop the Carnival revolves around the lead character of Norman Paperman. He is the middle-aged New York City press agent who leaves the noise and safety of the big city and runs away to a (fictional) Caribbean island to redeem and reinvent himself as a hotel keeper. The result is a satirical tale of tropical disaster.[2]

The novel takes place on the fictional island of Amerigo. According to the opening of the musical (a paraphrased excerpt from the novel):

Kinja was the name of the island when it was British. The actual name was King George III Island, but the islanders shortened that to Kinja. Now the names in the maps and guidebooks is Amerigo, but everybody who lives there still calls it Kinja. The United States acquired the island peacefully in 1940 as part of the shuffling of old destroyers and Caribbean real estate that went on between Mr. Roosevelt and Mr. Churchill. The details of the transaction were, and are, vague to the inhabitants. The West Indian is not exactly hostile to change, but he's not much inclined to believe in it. Meantime, in a fashion, Amerigo was getting American-ized; the inflow of cash was making everybody more prosperous. Most Kinjans go along cheerily with this explosion of American energy in the Caribbean. To them, it seems a new, harmless, and apparently endless carnival.

This book is said to be loosely based on Herman Wouk's experiences in managing an actual hotel, the Royal Mail Inn, in the early 1960s in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. The hotel was on Hassel Island, located in Charlotte Amalie Harbour. Buffett refers to the development of the musical in his memoir of an aeronautical circumnavigation of the Caribbean shortly after his fiftieth birthday, A Pirate Looks at Fifty.