Books

Borderlines

UK Hardcover

(Fourth Estate)

Hardcover: 13 Aug 2015
ISBN:000814740X

UK Paperback

(Fourth Estate)

Paperback: 30 June 2016
ISBN-13: 978-0008123017

Synopsis

British 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. When he’s not advising US companies on their shady foreign investments, Winston Peabody represents the African country of North Darrar, embroiled in a border arbitration case with its giant neighbour. Winston needs help with the hearings in The Hague, Paula needs to forget the past.

She flies to the highland capital determined to lose herself in work, but soon discovers that even jobs taken with the purest of intentions – making money – can involve squirm-inducing moral compromise. Taking testimony in scorching refugee camps, delving into North Darrar’s colonial past — all while fending off approaches from the CIA man in town — she becomes increasingly uneasy about her role as government attack dog. Budding friendships with Dawit, a scarred former rebel, and George, an idealistic young doctor, whittle away at her pose of sardonic indifference until, to her own surprise, Paula finds herself taking a step no decent lawyer should ever contemplate.

In this taut legal thriller, rich with the Horn of Africa’s colours, aromas and sensations, Michela Wrong probes the motives underlying Western engagement with the continent, questioning the value of universal justice and exploring how history itself is forged. But her first novel is above all the story of a distraught young woman’s anguished quest for redemption.

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Reviews

Lindsey Hilsum, Channel Four news:

“I read Borderlines in a single sitting. Paula Shackleton is an anti-heroine for our times: clever, spiky, complex and flawed. Michela Wrong has gained a reputation as a fluid, perceptive writer of non-fiction – now she has added a twist of imagination to create a gripping novel.”

Iain Pears, author of “An Instance of the Fingerpost”:

“Borderlines is not only a compelling narrative, it is also a thoughtful investigation of the ambiguities inherent in Western engagement with Africa. Should we defend oppressive governments? Should we intervene in local disputes? Does the idea of justice have real meaning, or is it just a cover for deals between the powerful? Michela Wrong poses the questions in a stylish story, but Africa is no mere backdrop for Western angst. She brings the place and its characters to life in a novel which is as entertaining as it is thought-provoking.”

Lionel Shriver, author of “We Need to Talk About Kevin”:

“Few other writers could make a border dispute in the Hague have readers sitting on the edges of their chairs. And no other writer I know of is capable of making Africa seem just as accessibly screwed up as our own messy political back yards. “Borderlines” is beautifully written and tautly told. It helps to explain why refugees from the Horn are queuing for boats in Libya, and portrays the searing disappointment of fighting a liberation war for years only to be betrayed by your own side. That disappointment isn’t African; it’s universal.”

Review on The Guardian online

Review in The Guardian
– 22nd August, 2015

Review in The Spectator

Mario Reading reviews four first-rate first novels
– 29th August, 2015

Review in the Financial Times

The politics of cartography lies at the heart of a legal thriller set in postcolonial Africa
– 11th September, 2015

Review on Erivision.org

Borderlines by Michela Wrong – Book Review by Dawit Mesfin
– 17th September, 2015

Review on Theeastafrican.co.ke

Review in The East African
– 17th September, 2015

Review on Africasacountry.com

Borderlines: The tale of a state in limbo
– 24th September, 2015

Review on Africanarguments.org

Review: Borderlines by Michela Wrong
– 14th October, 2015

Review on www.nation.co.ke

Review in Kenya’s Daily Nation
– 6th November, 2015

Liz Blunt’s review in the Anglo-Ethiopian Society News File

Anglo-Ethiopian Society News File
– Winter, 2015

Review on Timeslive.co.za: South Africa’s “Times”

New Territories: Story of an African fracas
– 14th April, 2016

Review in The Times Literary Supplement

“Out of Africa” by Laura Jones
– 12th October, 2016

It’s Our Turn To Eat

“The Story of a Kenyan Whistleblower”

UK Edition

(Fourth Estate)

Paperback: 7 Jan 2010
ISBN: 0007241976

Hardback: 19 Feb 2009
ISBN: 0007241968

US Edition

(Harper Collins)

Paperback: 8 June 2010
ISBN: 0061346594

Hardback: 16 June 2009
ISBN: 0061346586

German Translation

“Jetzt sind wir dran”

Translated by Anna Latz

Paperback: March 2010
ISBN: 9783893201402

Spanish Translation

“Ahora comemos nosotros”

Translated by Silvia Komet

Paperback: May 2011
ISBN: 9788484524069

Order Direct

Order online: Oxfamintermon.org

Synopsis

In January 2003, Kenya was hailed as a model of democracy after the peaceful election of its new president, Mwai Kibaki. By appointing respected longtime reformer John Githongo as anticorruption czar, the new government signalled its determination to end the corrupt practices that had tainted the previous regime. Yet only two years later, Githongo himself was on the run, having discovered that the new administration was ruthlessly pillaging public funds.

Under former President Moi, his Kalenjin tribesmen ate. “Now it’s our turn to eat,” politicians and civil servants close to the president told Githongo”. As a member of the government and the president’s own Kikuyu tribe, Githongo was expected to cooperate. But he refused to be bound by ethnic loyalty. Githongo had secretly compiled evidence of official malfeasance and, at great personal risk, made the painful choice to go public. The result was Kenya’s version of Watergate.

Michela Wrong’s account of how a pillar of the establishment turned whistle-blower, becoming simultaneously one of the most hated and admired men in Kenya, grips like a political thriller. At the same time, by exploring the factors that continue to blight Africa – ethnic favoritism, government corruption, and the smug complacency of Western donor nations – “It’s Our Turn to Eat” probes the very roots of the continent’s predicament. It is a story that no one concerned with our global future can afford to miss.

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Reviews

“Long before their official launch, most books detach themselves from their authors. An editor calls to say the text has gone to the printers and no further changes are possible. You feel a pang of regret, tinged with relief. Like any anxious parent, you will do what you can to ease your creation’s passage through a hostile world, granting interviews, giving the odd speech, but essentially it must now fend for itself. Your attention shifts to the next project.”

– Author’s account of the book’s post-publication turbulent saga in Standpoint magazine, July/August 2009

“A book detailing a culture of corruption in Kenya is making booksellers and government officials uneasy, but for different reasons. The fear of reprisals is keeping sellers from stocking it, while top officials named in the book are threatening to sue for libel.”

CNN report on the book’s boycotting in Kenya, April 23, 2009

“I walked into the bookstore and spotted the owner behind the counter. We made eye contact and I moved toward him. With a quick glance around, I leaned in and said, in a self-conscious half-whisper: “That book that everyone wants — do you have it?”

The man shook his head. “Ahh, no more,” he said. “Too hot, bwana, too hot.”

A book that’s too hot for Kenya”, 25 February, 2009

Ray Bonner in The Guardian

Josh Hammer in the New York Times

Jeffrey Gettleman in the New York Times Review of Books

Kenyan writer Parselelo Kantai in the EastAfrican

“How to ruin a country”, The Economist

David Kazia in the Sunday Nation

Bernard Porter in the London Review of Books

Patrick Smith in the Financial Times

Biblical Study:

A 62-page Biblical study guide drawn up by the National Council of Churches of Kenya, to be read alongside the book can be found here.

I Didn’t Do It For You

“How the World Used and Abused a Small African Nation”

UK Edition

(Harper Perennial)

Paperback: 4 July 2005
ISBN: 0007150954

Hardback: 17 Jan 2005
ISBN: 0007150962

US Edition

(Harper Perennial)

Paperback: 13 June 2006
ISBN: 0060780932

Hardback: 14 June 2005
ISBN: 0060780924

Spanish Translation

(Intermon Oxfam. Libros de Encuentro)

Paperback: 2006
ISBN: 8484523853

Order Direct

Order online: Oxfamintermon.org

Italian Translation

Paperback: 1 Sep 2017
ISBN: 978-8897206323

Reviews

Nicky Di Paolo

Order Direct

Order online from Colibriedizioni.it

Chinese Translation

(Yunnan University Press)

Paperback: 2011
ISBN: 978-7-5482-0296-7

Hardback: 17 Jan 2005
ISBN: 0007150962

Order Direct

Yunnan University Press:
+86-871-5033244
+86-8715031071

Synopsis

Scarred by decades of conflict and occupation, the craggy African nation of Eritrea has weathered the world’s longest-running guerrilla war. The dogged determination that secured victory against Ethiopia, its giant neighbor, is woven into the national psyche, the product of cynical foreign interventions. Fascist Italy wanted Eritrea as the springboard for a new, racially pure Roman empire; Britain sold off its industry for scrap; the United States needed a base for its state-of-the-art spy station; and the Soviet Union used it as a pawn in a proxy war.

In I Didn’t Do It for You, Michela Wrong reveals the breathtaking abuses this tiny nation has suffered and, with a sharp eye for detail and a taste for the incongruous, tells the story of colonialism itself and how international power politics can play havoc with a country’s destiny.

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Reviews

“Contemporary history on the grand scale. I was entertained, informed and angered. Wrong has given us another essential contribution to the post-colonial scramble for Africa.” – John le Carre

“Vivid, penetrating, wonderfully detailed. Michela Wrong has written the biography of a nation and more — she has excavated the very heart and soul of the Eritrean people and their country.” – Aminatta Forna

“If you thought Eritrea was some exotic flower you heard mentioned on a gardening programme this book will tell you something different. It tells the tale of a small group of Africans so despised and trampled by successive foreign occupations that they fought back and after 30 years of war, they became a nation. It is an astounding story packed with tales of the worst — and the best — of human behaviour.” – Richard Dowden, President of the Royal African Society

“I found it engrossing, vividly written in the style of the best thrillers, while portraying real-life dramas and characters larger than life. It brought to life all the cruelties and distortions of the cold war in Africa, as seen from a helpless victim-country, with its stories of grotesque interventions by Americans and Russians and the excesses of the African leaders. But it’s also thoroughly well-informed, and I’ve read nothing that’s told me as much about either Eritrea or Ethiopia. It should become the standard work on the region.” – Anthony Sampson

Cry Freedom“, Clare Short in the New Statesman, 17 Jan 2005

Rebels in Afros and hot pants“, Robert Guest in the Telegraph, Jan 2005

Shadiness in the Sun“, The Economist, Jan 22, 2005

The Never-Ending Struggle of a Forgotten Bit of Africa“, William Grimes in the New York Times, 26 July, 2005

Post-colonial Tug of War“, Stephanie Giry in the New York Times, 14 August, 2005

The Habit of War“, Jeremy Harding, London Review of Books, 20 July 2006

In The Footsteps Of Mr Kurtz

“Living on the Brink of Disaster in the Congo”

UK Edition

(Fourth Estate)

Paperback: 2 July 2001
ISBN: 1841154229

Royal Paperback: 03 Aug 2000
ISBN: 1841154210

US Edition

(Harper Perennial)

Paperback: 28 May 2002
ISBN: 0060188804

Hardback: 24 April 2001
ISBN: 0060188804

German Translation

Paperback: 1 Sep 2017
ISBN: 978-8897206323

Spanish Translation

(Yunnan University Press)

Paperback: 2011
ISBN: 978-7-5482-0296-7

Hardback: 17 Jan 2005
ISBN: 0007150962

Order Direct

Order online: Oxfamintermon.org

Synopsis

Known as “the Leopard,” the president of Zaire for thirty-two years, Mobutu Sese Seko, showed all the cunning of his namesake — seducing Western powers, buying up the opposition, and dominating his people with a devastating combination of brutality and charm. While the population was pauperized, he plundered the country’s copper and diamond resources, downing pink champagne in his jungle palace like some modern-day reincarnation of Joseph Conrad’s crazed station manager.

Michela Wrong, a correspondent who witnessed Mobutu’s last days, traces the rise and fall of the idealistic young journalist who became the stereotype of an African despot. Engrossing, highly readable, and as funny as it is tragic, In the Footsteps of Mr. Kurtz assesses the acts of the villains and the heroes in this fascinating story of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

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Reviews

“This is the most gripping and illuminating book about Africa I have read for years, and it throws its light way beyond the borders of the Congo: not just to the neighbouring countries which are now competing for the spoils from the demoralised country, but to the wider problem of preventing the drift to corruption and tyranny in other parts of Africa.” – Anthony Sampson, Spectator.

“Michela Wrong… traveled widely in the country during the last years of Mobutu’s reign and was one of the few Western witnesses to his downfall. To stick it out in the capital, Kinshasa, must have demanded courage – and a strong sense of the absurd. She has written a cool, glittering, kaleidoscopic book. Her account of the fall of Kinshasa and Mobutu’s flight has something of the flavour of Evelyn Waugh’s African travel books.” – Thomas Pakenham, The Times.

“In the Footsteps of Mr Kurtz is an eloquent, brilliantly-researched account, and a remarkably sympathetic study of a tragic land which, for all its disadvantages, seethes with humour, passion, febrile energy and some of the best musical rhythms on the African continent.” – Jon Swain, Sunday Times.

“Michela Wrong’s (book) is not a one-dimensional, moralistic tale of a terrible dictator inflicted by the Cold War West on an innocent population – the kind of tale that apologists for Africa’s failure take comfort in. Ms Wrong has written a far more complex saga. She shows us a brilliant despot who used bribery to hold together a country that was never really a country and who was supported by the West for reasons at first justifiable and later not so. The result is a surgical insight into kleptocracy that challenges our assumptions of modernity.”– Robert D Kaplan, Wall St Journal.

“(A) chillingly amusing cautionary tale.”– Jonathan Yardley, Washington Post.

“Michela Wrong nimbly balances absurdity and outrage in her portrait of Mobutu Sese Seko and the wreckage he visited – with steady Western sponsorship – on the country he called Zaire. Her book is charged with pity and terror, and with the sort of sustaining humour that she rightly admires in Mobutu’s former subjects.”– Philip Gourevitch.

“Absorbing, witty and wrily observed… Ms Wrong’s book is filled with wonderful descriptive and narrative passages… A superb book.”– William Shawcross, Financial Times.

Anthony Sampson in the Spectator, 7 Oct 2000

The Big Broccoli” in The Economist, 13 Jul 2000

Alan Cowell in the New York Times, 8 Oct 2000

Ian Fisher in the New York Times, 10 June 2001

Thomas M Callaghy in Foreign Affairs, Sept / Oct 2001

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