So have we gotten out of the time warp yet? Seems like more than a week has gone by with us exploring Tasmania. The devil, you say? Get on the plane.
141. Australia. Sometimes I can recommend a book because I have read it. Other times I have seen the movie. This is a movie recommendation. The Rabbit Proof Fence by Doris Pilkington is based on a true story. I like to believe the government program had the best of intentions with removing children from their families, but you know what happens to good intentions. They end up resurfacing a hot roadway. http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/150723.Rabbit_Proof_Fence
142. Papua New Guinea. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens does not take place in this country. However, Mr. Pip by Lloyd Jones uses the fascination with that story to pull a community together following a devastating war. Not a coming of age story or a novel of how bad it is to be a woman, instead it’s the story of how every individual is important for surviving tragedy. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/543873.Mister_Pip?from_search=true
143. Indonesia. I found this book and stopped looking for others. I just listened to the author’s book, Wild Fire, and if you read my Wednesday post, you’ll understand some of what pulled me into and out of that story. But I came away with a desire to know all about the other characters on the team, and I expect we will have that opportunity. Wild Rain by Christine Feehan is the second in the series Leopard People. At least Indonesia is a more likely setting for leopards than Central America.
144. Singapore. Say what you will about Barbara Cartland, some of her stories were fun and taught readers some things about the world around them. Magnificent Marriage by La Cartland has a heroine that proves to be smart, a little older than Cartland’s usual virgins, and more important to the story than the alpha hero. One reviewer praised the fact that she learned some of the history of Singapore, Malaysia, and Sarawak. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/3787343-the-magnificent-marriage?ac=1 A close second is The Elephant and The Tree by Jin Pyn Lee.
145. East Timor. Sometimes the best way to get to know a country is through fiction, and sometimes it’s through memoirs. The Crossing: A Story of East Timor by Luis Cardoso tells his story and that of his homeland during the important struggle for independence. One reviewer complained that it was too intense, with so much packed into a small book. Well, try to describe any such struggle in 20,000 words or less. http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/868194.The_Crossing
146. Madagascar. Did you ever wonder exactly what happened in detail between Tarzan and Jane, all those years in the forest? Well, apparently so did Collete Gale. Entwined is the first book in her series, The Erotic Adventures of Jane in the Jungle. I so want this book, and I so wish I had written it.
147. Mauritius. You are a young boy on an island that is largely in ignorance of World War II. Your father works as a guard at a prison there, and through various events, you meet a Jewish boy your own age. Jews were refused admittance to Palestine, and ended up wherever they could find some acceptance. One reviewer says this is a sweet story with a hard pit. Coming of age with a purpose that would not have occurred had there been more love in the world. The Last Brother by Nathacha Appanan.
148. Reunion Island. I picked a graphic novel because, one, I love and grew up reading comic books, and two, they are a great way to help kids and adults read more. The story of a young assistant to an ornithology professor looking for the nearly extinct dodo bird being swept away by the lifestyle of the island’s inhabitants got my attention. Bourbon Island 1730 by Lewis Trondheim looks delightful in both story concept and the art work. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/3416560-bourbon-island-1730
149. Seychelles. Keith and Sally Pomeroy start their delightful Mathew Butler Adventures series with Butler Did It with a scuba diving photographer, a murder attempt, and lots of fun. Even the reviewers giving it a low star rating agreed that it’s a fun read. Those who liked it added exciting, but don’t expect a classic. And my favorite, it would make a better movie than a book. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/11068144-butler-did-it?ac=1
150. Comoros. What do you know about the coelacanth? Here’s a cheat sheet: http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/fish/coelacanth/ Now you are ready to read A Fish Caught in Time: The Search for the Coelacanth by Samantha Weinberg. Long thought to be extinct, this possible link between the sea and the land is merely elusive, living in a very inhospitable ocean depth for humans. Can you feel the excitement of seeing a picture of one just caught, when the scientific world felt sure they no longer existed? https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/539138.A_Fish_Caught_in_Time?ac=1
151. Mozambique. Why does it seem that as soon as a person vows never to get involved with the opposite sex or the same sex in a romantic way if that’s their inclination, the perfect match for them walks into their life? Mozambique Mysteries by Lisa St. Aubin de Terán may not answer that, but you will read a personal story involving the remote coastal country and the various cultures that settled there.
152. Zimbabwe. Now we turn to a story of coming of age in a country where it’s tough to be female, and cultures clash without thought. Two people find themselves and each other while a country grows in spite of national upheaval, and a mystery might tear their world apart. An intelligent read in the land of growing tension, as well as growing tension between the main characters’ falling in love. The Boy Next Door by Irene Sabatini.
153. Swaziland. Presented as a fantasy adventure, The Bird of Heaven by Peter Dunseith reveals the world and lives of Swazi tribes through their spiritual beliefs and customs. There’s a character who is a leopard in a man’s body, so maybe wereleopards aren’t that original. We receive the gifts of our ancestors for self-empowerment, and face the transcendent victory of a noble spirit. All in one book.
154. Lesotho. I have struggled to find books about the countries written by natives, or at least citizens, of that country. Here I have a fictionalized account of the life of a great Zulu warrior. Chaka by Thomas Mofolo is compared by one reader to a Hindu myth. Written in the early 1900s, this book has taken a long time to come to any attention in the West, and for that I give it my complete attention.
155. Zambia. Another good way to get to know a country is through the accounts written by those totally unprepared for what they encounter. Peeing in the Bush by Adeline Loh is one such story. I came back to it several times just based on the title. All she knew about the jungle she learned on Animal Planet. I can’t wait to get to know her paranoid vegetarian companion. A wacky retelling of an attempt to leave the comforts of civilization behind, it’s dubbed a wack-o adventure by one of the reviewers. I’m thinking Lucy and Ethel go to Africa. Sold!
156. Angola. Truth or Fiction? Yes. Set in Diary form, Nzingha: Warrior Queen of Matamba, Angola, Africa, 1595 by Patricia C. McKissack is one of a series of books (The Royal Diaries) for young readers detailing the lives of girls from around the world and throughout history. Most of the reviewer readers are young, but not all. And in case it matters, Ms. McKissack is of the same blood as the heroine in her story. A strong main character and a fascinating story.
157. The Democratic Republic of the Congo. There’s so much about the country that is fascinating to me. My mother had a friend who had lived there, when it was called the Belgian Congo. I loved her stories of the jungle and the changing world. I could have gone easy on myself with Congo by Michael Crichton, where I first learned that gorillas are afraid to cross running water or to be wet. But I hoped for something deeper. When you go to Goodreads and read the synopsis, you should know immediately why I picked this one. The Madman and the Medusa by Tchicaya U Tam’si.
158. Rwanda. I’ll give you a few minutes to get over any uncontrollable urges to giggle at the names Hutu and Tutsis. Because the horrid slaughter of families for no other reason than the circumstances of their birth and heritage is nothing to laugh at. Finding hope and love in the heart of slaughter and chaos would be worthy of praise, and so it is in Baking Cakes in Kigali by Gaile Parkin. The reviews are the usual mix of loved it/hated it/ it’s not so bad, but I found it disturbing that one opined that the book would be popular in America because the main character was a strong black woman. I think it more likely that the gift of hope in despair by a person of any gender or race is the key to popular fiction.
159. Burundi. I feel like I have discovered something really special here. There are no reviews so far on Goodreads. But having grown up with Tarzan in all the various forms, and Jungle Book, and loved the idea that a human child could survive when raised by animals, I am all agog to read The Wild Boy of Burundi by Harlan Lane and Richard Pillard. A true case study of a child found living with primates in 1974. How did he get there? What happened to his parents? Is he any relation to someone named Greystoke? Well, I will have to read the book to find out.
160. Tanzania. We’ll end this week with a trip in the Way Back machine, visiting prehistoric Tanzania, and the tribes that live in the shadows of Kilimanjaro. Great Sky Woman by Steve Barnes is a combination of anthropology, cultural history, and fiction. A great read and the first book in a series that I expect will become addictive.
Enjoy the past, the huge herds of beasts that are no longer there, the people who changed to survive, and the foreshadow of a world to come. See you on Wednesday for a fun break, then on to some islands next Sunday.