Somewhere along a border between Mozambique and South Africa, along a border that moves its position according to what is considered politically expedient at a moment in time, a severe drought is devastating everything. A small clinic, long since forgotten by the high and mighty finds it has become the refuge for hundreds of desperate people, daily more pour in until they become overwhelmed by this deluge with no sign of outside help. This leaves a disparate group of individuals trying to find the necessary supplies to feed all, which soon runs out, leaving them with no alternative but to find a new way to solve this dilemma - a drastic, crazy and illegal plan is soon hatched.
Bundu is an old fashioned adventure tale, and a love story set in a harsh landscape decimated by drought, it is also about how people survive in this environment, not merely on a physical level, but what mechanisms, habits, beliefs they rely on to communicate with the world. This book is not one I would normally read, in fact based on the blurb on the cover I would not have picked it out from other books on a shelf, as I said above it is a good old fashion tale of love and adventure. There is nothing wrong with it being that, except this is on The Independent Foreign Fiction prize longlist, meaning it needs to have something else to compete on a level playing field with the other contenders: it must have more depth, gravitas etc. Bundu does, although on one level it is a tale of love and adventure, and yet it is also a study of the characters, a motley gathering of the washed up and lonely, all of whom are seeking some resolution, some answers.