Man in a Mud Hut by John Mathie
Paperback at £12.99
Mathie has created an unusual style of narrative, half storytelling, half fact which makes for an interesting and often disbelieving read. The true tale of a visiting UK government worker, Desmond, sent to Africa to check up on some erroneous accounts from one of the humanitarian projects, allows Mathie to act almost as tour guide for the reader, introducing you to life in rural Africa in the 1970s.
Witchcraft and the complex social nuances of the small West African community play centre stage in this book, leaving the supposedly more important tale of murder and corruption that Desmond was originally sent to investigate, in the wings. Once you realise that only the bare bones of the corruption story will be shared, you can sit back and enjoy the, sometimes sad but more often humorous, tales of village life – the description of the locust swarm remaining particularly vivid.
Having spent some time in rural Africa myself, I reminisced fondly over Mathie’s descriptions of the culture of haggling over everything and the pretence at bureaucracy that means getting anything done either takes forever, or a bribe, or both! Once you get used to the unusual writing style, for those readers not lucky enough to have experienced Africa, reading Man in a Mud Hut will give you a taste of the differences, and occasional similarities to western culture which make it such a wonderful place, although much of it may seem unbelievable!
For once, I didn't write the review.
My daughter Heather did!
For details of his other books, link to his own site http://www.ianmathie.com/