White Dog Fell From The Sky
US Penguin (January 2013, Ed. Kathryn Court, 250 pages)
UK & Comm Penguin (Ed. Juliet Annan)
The bitter heart eats its owner.
Botswana, 1976. Isaac Muthethe thinks that he is dead. Smuggled across the border from South Africa in a hearse, he awakens covered in dust, staring at blue sky and the face of White Dog. Far from dead, he is, for the first time, in a country without apartheid. A medical student in South Africa, he was forced to flee after witnessing a friend murdered by white policemen.
Walking along the road into Gaborone, Botswana’s capital, White Dog following close behind, a chance encounter with an old school acquaintance changes the course of his life. Amen, a member of the ANC, the South African resistance movement, invites Isaac to stay with his family. Petrified of deportation and determined to find work, Isaac swears he will stay just for a few days. He sets out to find a job and is hired as a gardener by a young American woman, Alice Mendelssohn, who has abandoned her PhD studies to follow her husband, Lawrence, to Botswana. Five years later, her marriage is an empty shell. Discovering Lawrence’s infidelity with a friend, she leaves and sets off on a work trip to the vast bush that she loves — alternately austere and lush, with light that blinds — leaving her home in the care of Isaac. It is on this trip that she meets Ian, an expert on the Kung San and a rebellious, untamable man more than fifteen years her senior, with whom she imagines a very different future.
Returning home, she finds Isaac missing and White Dog loyally waiting at the end of the drive, dehydrated and malnourished. When she goes in search of Isaac, what she finds out will change her forever and inextricably bind her to this sunburned, beautiful land.
Eleanor Morse paints a gorgeous and intimate portrait of Africa and of three people whose intertwined lives are at once tragic and extraordinary.