A tense legal thriller which conjures the sights and sounds of Africa and questions Western involvement in the continent Michela Wrong s d but has big ambitions, but does it deliver Michela Wrong is an award winning journalist who has worked as a foreign correspondent She has been writing about Africa for over 20 years after postings with Reuters in Cote d Ivoire and Zair She is the author of three non fiction titles that have examined Mobutu s rise and fall, studied the little written about Red Sea nation of Eritrea and told the story of Kenyan corruption whistle blower John Githongo.Her non fiction books on contemporary Africa aim to be accessible to both members of the general public and experts in the field and she brings the issues and ideas she has examined in her previous books to her first novel, Borderlines.At the centre of her debut is Paula Shakleton a smart, ambitious but troubled lawyer who is tempted into working for an African government by a brilliant human rights lawyer Fleeing from heartbreak over the death of her lover, she agrees to help with a border dispute between two small African nations which caused two damaging wars.The novel is slow to start but Michela does a good job of peppering the first few pages with clues as to where the story might go, keeping the reader intrigued and guessing from the beginning Paula is instantly recognisable as a strong, independent woman but Michela creates a character that is wholly three dimensional, with flaws and complexities that bring her to life and which holds the story together She is suffering from the loss of her lover and has all but given up on her botched, interrupted, pointless demi life You are drawn into thinking that her adventure in Africa is either going to make or break her.At times Michela s writing can feel quite clunky There are points that leap out from the page as anomalies, such as the moment an unfamiliar aroma is broken down into 6 different herbs and spices she must have a really good nose or the 1950 s diary extracts that feature phrases such as old girl and chaps It feels a little clich d at times, as though Michela perhaps wrote them in to give her characters depth but ended up overshooting the mark a little.Passages about Paula s past with her lover are also anomalies of a sort They are far less exciting and vivid than the real time moments we spend with Paula in North Darrar The novel sparkles whenwant to finish this review Go to and then check out the rest of For Books Sake for news, views and much much about women writers. Interesting, complex and informative having read her non fiction, It s Our Turn To Eat which is such a powerful introduction to the world of Kenyan politics, this book really opens up her intimate knowledge of the interface of goverments, NGOs and Aid, and personal interests in the African countries that she has worked in over the years It s a great read. I liked the discussion about how countries are created especially in the context of developing countries fighting for western recognition I liked the mean speech from Dawit near the endbut the rest of the book was meh I found the characters only half believable except the asshole UN peace keeping troup, who I m fully willing to believe exists irl Maybe if it was my first foray into the world of development work, I would have been pleased by the whole bookwho can say.I was especially annoyed by the love story Don t get me wrong, I m typically a sap for tired love stories, but each time the italic text appeared, I braced myself for overwhelming boredom and trudged through All in all, I d go with it s fine If you are bored and have a couple free days, it s certainly worth the 12. I ve enjoyed Michaela Wrong s non fiction and her book on Eritrea clearly gives her useful background for this work I found the characterisations of the Eritreans surprisingly good Dawit and Him but the western characters were to a person cliched and unsympathetic Like other reviewers I found the love story tedious. Gritty Great review in the FT Can t wait to read it. A good read for international development students I was lucky to meet the author during her talk about this book at The University of Manchester. For someone with a weak spot for international law and who has spent many years in the region, Borderlines by Michela Wrong was a wonderful present I had very much enjoyed Wrong s damning account of corruption in Kenya in It s our turn to eat This is her first work of fiction, but the topic looked very exciting indeed.Borderlines is a well written legal thriller, providing a fictional account of the works of the arbitration commission assessing the border between Darrar and North Darrar The narrator, Paula Shackleton, is a lawyer working for the small team working for the government of North Darrar The descriptions of the harsh reality of a young police state, of the case preparations and of the proceedings in The Hague are all very clear and realistic There are also some funny and recognisable accounts, borderline clich , of expat life in a small African country e.g how to find out if your US embassy contact is a CIA agent.The book is a good and inviting read, but suffers from a few flaws If the book is so obviously about Eritrea, why not simply use the real place names This could have made the context so much interesting for the non initiated Also, the ease of her career shift, from corporate lawyer to border litigation, is not very convincing, nor is the link with the story within the story, on a previous affair with a married lawyer in the States There is a vague connection with her later life in North Darrar, but it all feels rather unnecessary.Overall a very good read, also recommended for those readers with no personal history in the Horn of Africa or on international law. The Debut Novel By A British Writer With Nearly Two Decades Of African Experience A Compelling Courtroom Drama And A Gritty, Aromatic Evocation Of Place, Inspired By Recent EventsBritish Lawyer Paula Shackleton Is Mourning A Lost Love When A Small Man In A Lemon Coloured Suit Accosts Her Over Breakfast In A Boston Hotel Winston Peabody Represents The African State Of North Darrar, Embroiled In A Border Arbitration Case With Its Giant Neighbour He Needs Help With The Hearings In The Hague, Paula Needs To Forget The PastShe Flies To The State S Capital Determined To Lose Herself In Work, But Soon Discovers That Even Jobs Taken With The Purest Intentions Can Involve Moral Compromise Taking Testimony In Scorching Refugee Camps, Delving Into The Colonial Past, She Becomes Increasingly Uneasy About Her Role Budding Friendships With A Scarred Former Rebel And An Idealistic Young Doctor Whittle Away At Her Pose Of Sardonic Indifference, Until Paula Finds Herself Taking A Step No Decent Lawyer Should Ever ContemplateMichela Wrong Has Been Writing About Africa For Two Decades In This Taut Legal Thriller, Rich With The Horn Of Africa S Colours And Aromas, She Probes The Motives Underlying Western Engagement With The Continent, Questioning The Value Of Universal Justice And Exploring How History Itself Is Forged Above All Her First Novel Is The Story Of A Young Woman S Anguished Quest For Redemption The strength of Wrong s novel comes from the historic truths it depicts, the very real historic border disputes beteen Eritrea North Darrar , and Ethiopia Darrar in the last century, and the resurgence of this problem in the past two years as Ethiopia struggles to grow without access to a trading coast This is what makes it riveting for me as well as her marvellous depiction of courtroom politics in the Hague It s also in the details of the locals in Eritrea, her description of Liberation Avenue, her portrayal of the ex fighters, their life as students being taught English by Indian teachers, their battle scars all too real Only someone who knows the locals and has spent many a days chatting working with them can be so good at portraying them Paula s story is in many ways the story of many a Westerner in the Horn of Africa, the impact with local culture and mentality always in the end creating dilemmas, doubts, misunderstandings Whose battle is she really fighting Great piece of writing, makes is a very enthralling read Looking forward to novels from her.
Half Italian, half British, Michela Wrong was born in 1961 She grew up in London and took a degree in Philosophy and Social Sciences at Jesus College, Cambridge and a diploma in journalism at Cardiff.She joined Reuters news agency in the early 1980s and was posted as a foreign correspondent to Italy, France and Ivory Coast She became a freelance journalist in 1994, when she moved to then Zaire a
- Kindle Edition
- 352 pages
- Michela Wrong
- 09 August 2019 Michela Wrong