Update from Equiano

In December I started routinely listening to an audio book while ironing (I confess, I iron my sheets and pillow cases, and as there was a steady stream of guests, that meant plenty of consistent listening time!). I'm in two minds as to whether I can really count it as "reading," but as it was unabridged, I'm allowing it. My first dabble with audiobooks has been A GOOD MAN IN AFRICA by William Boyd (read by Timothy Spall). This won a Whitbread for best first novel in 1981 and a Somerset Maugham the following year. I hated it.

Morgan Leafy, our "hero" is a cad, and so is just about everyone else. The only strong black African character, Adekunle, is a corrupt bully, and so it goes on... There's lots of bed-hopping, blackmail and office jealousy in the corridors of the British High Commission in Kinjanja. I suppose one can argue that it is a satire, sending up the mighty Commonwealth and its celebrated influence in Africa. And I suppose it does do all that. But, even for ironing, I was hoping for something a little meatier than a book most marked by the almost total non-presence of any real African character. Of course the argument would be that that is precisely the point - for those in colonial administration, the locals were an irrelevance. I know that, I just feel we've moved past that now. And perhaps that's it - that this is a book of its time? Perhaps it is cleverer than I am giving Boyd credit for, and I am just not in the mood. I still don't like it, and don't think it is prize-winning material. But Timothy Spall, as reader, was superb.

This has been cross-posted, with some minor adjustments, on my blog http://equianos.blogspot.com/2008/01/in-december-i-started-routinely.html