Synopses & Reviews
Michael Mewshaw knows two Africas: the excitingly picturesque one we see on postcards, and the dangerous one he discovered on African soil--a North Africa that is indeed dramatic and beautiful, but with a dark side that is never quite captured in commercial images. In this book, Mewshaw shows us both continents--taking us from the benign beaches of Morocco to the casbahs of Algeria, where more than 100,000 people have died during a decade of political strife. From Morocco to Tangiers and then on to Libya and Egypt, Mewshaw deftly navigates the cultural vectors and political crosscurrents that infuse today's Africa with conflict and fear. He focuses on contemporary life--and death--in this mosaic of countries that share a common Arabic language and Islamic culture yet constitute a kind of geopolitical shatter zone less than three hours by air from Europe. Mewshaw is thorough in his analysis, visiting themes that include postcolonialism, the oil business, literature, zoology, and immigration from poor and unstable countries to affluent nations. Bringing to bear both his experience as a journalist and his narrative gift as a novelist, he provides historical context for these very current issues, all told with wit and humor and a clear respect for the people he encounters along the way.
Mewshaw knows two Africas: the picturesque one seen on postcards, and the dangerous one he discovered on African soil. Here, he takes readers from the benign beaches of Morocco to the casbahs of Algeria, where more than 100,000 people have died during a decade of political strife.
For his 65th birthday, acclaimed novelist Michael Mewshaw took a 4,000-mile overland trip across North Africa. Arriving in Egypt during food riots, he heads west into Libya, where billions in oil money have produced little except citizens eager to flee to Europe or join the jihad in Iraq. In Tunis, Mewshaw visits an abandoned Star Wars
movie set where Al Qaeda has just kidnapped two tourists.
Ignoring U.S. Embassy warnings he crosses into Algeria, traveling through mountain towns and seething metropolises where 200,000 people have died during more than a decade of sectarian violence. Searching for the tombs of seven monks murdered by Islamic fundamentalists, he reaches a village where six more people have been beheaded the day before. When he interviews a repentant terrorist responsible for 5,000 deaths, the man praises the Boy Scouts for training him.
By contrast, the Moroccan city of Tangier seems almost tame. But then he meets the last literary protégé of Paul Bowles who accuses Bowles of plagiarism and murder. In the end, the reader, like the author, is immersed in a fascinating adventure thats sometimes tragic, often funny, occasionally terrifying and always a revelation of a strange place and its people.