Wednesday, January 19, 2005
Stroll Through Botswana With A Smile
The book reports cometh, as promised-eth : - ) In December I had the joy of "reading" Alexander McCall Smith's Number #1 Ladies' Detective Agency on audiotape. Episodic and meandering, the book is more than the sum of its several mysteries, at times more a comedy of manners and cultural study than a page-turner. Its heroine, Mma' Ramotzwe, is a wise woman of a certain age who decides to use her meager inheritance to hang up a shingle and be Botswana's first lady gumshoe. Flashbacks tell us her story, and her dad's story as an itinerant miner in neighboring South Africa. Her narration places you right into the Botswanan mindset, fatalistic and wry, proud to be one of black Africa's success stories but cognizant of how much is still lacking. I learned, for instance, that the African ideal of female beauty is a full figure, robust and plump, and that America's models look to them emaciated and sickly. The book gave me the feeling of visiting an exotic place and being taken around by locals, each sharing their unique perspective. Those who fall in love with this universe will be delighted to learn that there are several acclaimed sequels. Pictured right is the German edition of one of the sequels, 'A Cook for Mma Ramotzwe'
Here's a cartoon
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