Author: Andrew J H Sharp (www.andrewjhsharp.co.uk)
Published by Matador
This book is a stealthy, sunburnt cautery, powered by words that implode even as they unfold. Line by line they cleave the DNA of the characters away from the pages to transcribe their very souls. The pages are the genome of a dark world.
Andrew Sharp (a skin cancer surgeon and ex GP) laces the narrative with precise medical terminology and doctor patient happenstance, tinged, I venture, with a wistful longing for past medical practice. But as it weaves its tale the coloured medical idiom are the warp that endows the main characters with a true complexion.
The tale purrs along, and as it unfolds the characters – like real people – are close enough to touch yet at the same time distant and unfathomable.
Initially the twists and turns are slow and soft but the effect is angular and zigzagonal. The strata erode and bleed away like the sun coming up on a slow dawn – but a dawn that darkens instead of effusing a warm Zimbabwean light.
One finds oneself drifting into backwaters of swirling pools, rich with glimpses of thoughts and human traits eternal. Even as they drive the story on, one is reluctant to leave their embrace.
I am not a lover of fiction but by chapter 10 it had me under its spell. Not engrossed, or enthralled but spell-bound! With not an improbable plot line to break the spell.
The plot accelerates without pause for breath, but without losing its poetic embrace – “a fingernail clip of moon nibbled by a cloud”
But despite the warm text and Zimbabwe heat, the story is starting to ache with a cold and deadly apprehension. Even the main character now hesitates to put on foot in front of the other.
The plot twists tighter and tighter and rings ugly thoughts to belie these sensitive words.
The scenes are of land and soil and belonging. One can feel the book crumbling away in one’s hands as the tilth of the words are sifted into a loam from home.
It is about relationships that are deep and recursive.
You will have noticed that I have not described the characters, I’ve not detailed the plot, and of course I have not told you the ending. So a delicacy awaits!
By the end of the book every raw emotion has been grazed bare, every tear drawn into the dry soil. And when there are no more tears left to fall – the spirit of the land is sublimated into the land of the spirit without a tear to stain the page.
The postscript is a kaleidoscope of threads that are finally woven into a handsome linen that Andrew Sharp lays gently upon a warm rock contentment.
Andrew Sharp was brought up in East Africa but has spent most of his working life in the Midlands. He travesl frequently to Zimbabwe where this book is based. Andrew is a skin cancer surgeon and ex GP.