White Dog Fell From the Sky – Eleanor Morse
This is the story of Isaac Muthethe, a promising young medical student who is forced to escape from South Africa to Botswana, smuggled in the base of a coffin. He arrives with no papers, no money and no contacts and the only thing interested in him is a small white dog that comes to investigate the body dumped out of a hearse. The year is 1977 and apartheid is in full control in South Africa. Isaac cannot return home to his family and has to come to terms with all that he has lost and how to start again.
From nothing, Isaac meets up with Alice, a white woman at odds with her life and marriage in Botswana, who takes him on as her gardener. He also bumps into an old school friend who is now part of the ANC. Through them and through the people that they know Isaac’s life is permanently altered. Beyond the separate stories of Isaac and Alice’s trials is the sense of a changing Botswana, of old ways being lost or “improved” by overseas academics and politicians.
In this book there is much pain and cruelty and yet the book is not depressing or introspective. It focuses on hope and how people cope and survive through setbacks and massive traumas. Morse has a beautiful writing style and whilst the story meanders along, occasionally we pause at little tributaries, marvelling at a tiny observation and then continue on again. This is a very fine book that will ultimately leave you inspired.
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