the kalahari typing school for men

November 17, 2008


Contrary to Mr. Snow, I have never stepped foot on African soil. So all my impressions and knowledge are limited to that garnered from photos, films, magazines and in particular books. Among those I’ve enjoyed were the classic ‘Out of Africa‘, ‘Mukiwa‘, the desperately sad and funny ‘Don’t Lets Go to the Dogs Tonight‘ and the nuanced and layered ‘Half of a Yellow Sun‘.

By contrast Alexander McCall Smith paints an almost Disney-ish version of Botswana in his series on the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency run by lady detective Precious Ramotswe. I read the first two books when they first came out and recently borrowed ‘The Kalahari Typing School for Men‘ from Special K, when I was after a nice light read.

The book delivered on the latter but not the former. Compared to the first two books, this one remained superficial throughout, and more seriously for a detective book, lacked a good case for Precious to get her teeth into.

McCall Smith’s loving little odes to Botswana  are kept to a minimum here, as he seems to pine for a disappeared old Botswana, with only the smallest of nods to the country’s ongoing HIV epidemic. A pity for the charming cast that just seems to have run out of plot.


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