Thursday, November 30, 2006

34. Sweetness in the Belly by Camilla Gibb

ISBN 0385660189 - Random House, 2005
A compelling insight into life in the city of Harrar, Ethiopia in the 1970s and the plight of Ethiopian refugees in Thatcherite London. The protagonist, Lilly is the daughter of bohemian British parents who are murdered in North Africa leaving her to be raised as a Muslim by the "Great Abdal".
"As is so often the case, true love is doomed. Lilly's suitor, a soulful doctor-turned-political agitator, disappears in the killing madness that swept Ethiopia after Haile Selassie's overthrow in 1974. Triply exiled-from love, from family, and from community-Lilly retreats to the country of her birth, where she recovers all three in the unlikely setting of a London low-income-housing project." View source.
As often is the case, I wish the author had included a glossary of terms and more detailed maps.
"Khat (Catha edulis, family Celastraceae) pronounced "cot" and also known as qat, gat, chat, and miraa, is a flowering plant native to tropical East Africa. Believed to originate in Ethiopia, it is a shrub or small tree growing to 5–8 m tall, with evergreen leaves 5–10 cm long and 1–4 cm broad. Khat has been grown for use as a stimulant for centuries in the Horn of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. There, chewing khat predates the use of coffee and is used in a similar social context. Its fresh leaves and tops are chewed or, less frequently, dried and consumed as tea, in order to achieve a state of euphoria and stimulation." Source .
Thank you, Marieanna, for lending it to me.

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