I LOVE THE SCATTERLINGS OF AFRICA, EACH AND EVERY ONE
In their hearts a burning hunger, beneath the copper sun.
Johnny Clegg & Savuka
With his latest novel Restless William Boyd has joined the ranks of literary thriller writers such as Alan Furst, Graham Green and John le Carré. Selected by my book club as the March reading, I raced through it, relishing every page.
The story is a double helix with the past life of 65 year old Eva Delectorskaya – who is now known as Sally Gilmartin, twisting round the present day life of her twenty-something daughter Ruth.
At the start of the long hot summer of 1976, Ruth is living in
Ruth teaches foreign students, many from
As her mother slowly unfolds the story of her past, Ruth is forced to consider the worlds of truth and untruth, suspicion and trust, and how difficult it is to determine what is real and what we are made to believe is real. She comes to realise that her mother has spent her whole adulthood being wary, expecting to be unmasked and even when, after Ruth has helped her to achieve her mission, Eva/Sally will continue being restless and on her guard until her death
Members of my book club have frequently discussed how, when an author writes a first person narrative, where the narrator is not the same sex as the author there is often an artificiality about the book, and the narrator’s viewpoint never quite rings true. However, in Restless I think Boyd has managed the cross-gender voice very well indeed, and has managed to find female perspectives that seem totally natural. He has built the plot up with tiny details piled one on another -and they seem impressively accurate so the reader feels that it must be a “true” story - rather than using a broad brush approach, and I think that is what makes it a literary thriller rather than one of the more common mass-market thrillers that are read today and
Rated 4 *
When I hear or read news from
I spent my formative years in central Africa, and visited or passed through
This is a country twice the size of
It joins a list of African nations which have been raped by their own governments since post colonial independence. It didn’t have to be this way.
And today, when the leaders of the official opposition, in what purports to be a democratic country, appear in court having been beaten within an inch of their lives by the police/army following ZANU orders, does our Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett make any fuss, contact the UN Security Council or stop British aid to the country? Does she hell.
This past week the weather has been so sunny and on Sunday we were able to have lunch outside - in early March! I think this is a record for us. Anyway, as Spring is very definately here, and therefore Summer is just around the corner, I have made a huge bowl of a middle eastern salad I absolutely love - to the point of addiction at times. I no longer even bother to measure the ingredients, just sling them together following the recipe loosely. The finished salad should be very green with the tomato and burgul playing second fiddle to the herbs. It is great with grilled lamb or with braaied meats, it also makes a super lunch sandwich in pitta bread with a dollop of Hummus. Hard to believe that something so delicious can be so good for you!
125g burgul (bulgar/cracked wheat)
2 bunches spring onions, washed and chopped
250g tomatoes, skinned, chopped and drained
4 heaped Tablespoons chopped parsley
4 heaped Tablespoons chopped mint
4 Tablespoons olive oil
3 Tablespoons lemon juice
Salt + Freshly ground black pepper
Put the burgul into a bowl and pour in enough fresh cold water to cover. Leave for ½ hour to soak. Drain, then squeeze dry between your hands.
Put the prepared burgul into a bowl, and add the finely chopped spring onions, mint, tomatoes and parsley. Stir well to mix then stir in the oil, lemon juice and season to taste.
Leave for an hour before serving.
Keeps well in fridge for 2-3 days. Rich in vitamin C.