The Garden of Burning Sand by Corban Addison
|The Garden of Burning Sand by Corban Addison|
|Reviewer: Ani Johnson|
|Summary: The lens in Corban Addison's second novel rests on abuse and warped justice in Zambia. For me not quite as good as A Walk Across The Sun but still a story that needs to be told by an author with vision enough to tell it.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 320||Date: September 2013|
|External links: Author's website|
A little girl named Kuyeya is found in Lusaka, Zambia abused, deeply shocked and badly injured. American lawyer Zoe Fleming is over there when her friend and local police officer Joseph receives the call and so her involvement begins. She's determined to help Joseph track down Kuyeya's attacker but the trail takes some surprising turns through the underbelly of Zambia, alarming Zoe with the extent of the crusade she's taken on.
I became a fan of American lawyer and writer Corban Addison after reading his first novel A Walk Across The Sun where he highlighted the huge problem of the global sex slave trade in a hugely affecting way. Although this, his second novel, didn't take my breath in the same manner, the tale of the abandonment of a large slice of society by the systems that should protect it still deserves a wide audience.
The main reason I wasn't as enveloped this time is that sometimes Corban's drive to convey the situation gives way to a little clunking. (For instance Rape is far too common in this country. doesn't just apply to that corner of the world and seems to be stating the obvious from a global perspective too.) Plus there are one or two moments of sub-plot predictability.
To begin with I got the impression that Zambia was being held up as a baddie regarding forced prostitution and child abuse when no one country has the monopoly on these, sadly. We in the UK just need to watch our local and national news. However, please don't let this impression put you off as I later realised I was missing the point; gradually Corban's universal themes give way to his main purpose. It's more to do with Zambian attitudes to disability and the Zambian judicial system than the sort of problems we see paraded through our own courts on a regular basis. (Once you've read the novel, take a look at the jaw-dropping facts in the author's notes.)
Zoe is our bridge, voicing our shock and frustration. She has a lot on her plate, struggling also with factors from her past: a father running for a political office at odds with her beliefs and her unfinished business and grief over her late mother plus a predictable development. The sub-plots may provide a momentary distraction from the crime and subsequent dramatic court case that we follow from opening to verdict, but we're in no doubt while we're there. Even when Kuyeya isn't on the page, her plight is so vivid she's still in our thoughts. There's also some effective back-tracking as we watch the sad parade of events unfold that brought us to that moment at the beginning of the story, adding the context and the compulsion that keeps the pages turning.
In fact, there is much to commend this and Corban's passion excuses much as far as I'm concerned. The court case and Kuyeya's parents' story alone is worth the money and so I'm able to forgive a bit of clunk, a bit of a no-brainer side dish and a couple of brief, thinly veiled sermons. For anyone wondering why else this novel should be read, most of us live places where the courts are fairly reliable (if not perfect), where the fight against HIV continues and is gaining ground on life expectancy and where intellectually-disabled children expect to live beyond their 5th birthday. Now imagine we don't and you're imagining the world that The Garden of Burning Sand shows us. I'm guessing for many that's reason enough.
If this appeals then we definitely commend A Walk Across The Sun to you.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Garden of Burning Sand by Corban Addison at Amazon.co.uk.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Garden of Burning Sand by Corban Addison at Amazon.com.
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