The Dust Diaries
A few years ago, Owen Sheers stumbled upon a dusty book in his father's study by the extraordinary Arthur Cripps, part-time lyric poet and full-time unorthodox missionary who served in Rhodesia for fifty years from 1902. Sheers' discovery prompts a quest into colonial Africa at the turn of the century, by way of war, a doomed love affair and friction with the ruling authorities. His personal journey into the contemporary heart of darkness that is Mugabe's Zimbabwe finds more than Cripps' legacy - Sheers finds a land characterised by terror and fear, and blighted by the land reform policies that Cripps himself anticipated.
"This is a slow-burning, mesmerising book that snags the heart with a telling detail or murmured regret then opens its gaze to reveal a wider, bolder view of time and place and history, like a camera lens taking in a shimmering veld." - Independent on Sunday
"No ordinary biography. The writing is beautiful and so emotionally charged that Sheers addresses his uncles directly, as if speaking to him at his graveside, or after a day sifting through his letters in an Oxford archive." - Daily Mail
"The great achievement of The Dust Diaries is to resurrect the time and the people who lived in Britain and the Empire, and Sheers dutifully follows their stories up to the present. He provides a satisfying end to an often beautiful book, by telling us not just how the characters in the story end up, but also their children, and the country itself." - TLS