This quarter's Granta has some news from the front-line in Uganda's struggle against Josef Kony. His policy has been to kidnap children, the boys to be killers, the girls to be sex slaves, in a monstrous family that he seems to believe can straddle state borders. He is already moving into the Congo, though he will have rivals there and may not prosper so easily. So far he has kidnapped somewhere in the region of 30,000 children, though many have since been rescued or have escaped. The problem with such figures is that one cannot conceive of them - they seem too many. How does he control them? The answer comes from Susan Minot's reporting from a Kony stronghold. Kony does not feature in this story, only in the form of a distant figure to whom all pleas must be referred. When Kony's soldiers came to the girls school at St Mary's and began their terrifying abduction the courageous nuns followed their charges into the bush, determined to plea for the children's return. Amazingly they managed to save the majority of their charges, but thirty girls were chosen by Kony's men to remain. Thirty girls ripped from their families and their school-lives. The sisters returned with their rescued children but the faces of the mothers whose children did not return will haunt them for ever. (Type "kony" into YouTube to find out more about the fight against him.)
In 'City Boy' by Judy Chicurel, she tells of a time when she volunteered at the Thorns of Christ Home for Forgotten Children where she met Stevie, a child with a multitude of problems, with whom she managed, against the odds, to form a good relationship. It does not end well, or start well, but it's a story that needs to be told.
The best of the fiction this quarter is a flurry of short stories led by Anne Beattie's 'Anecodotes', with Anna agreeing to take care of Christine's difficult mother as they travel to see Christine deliver a lecture on some photographs and other material by Margaret Bourke-White, an influential designer. The journey reminds Anna of when she and Christine met, discovering they were both in love with the same lecturer. Anna later makes a call to the lecturer's wife. David Long writes a hilarious, but also moving story about one night of pure lust between willing participants. But the best story of all is 'In Sight of the Lake' by Alice Munro and has perhaps the most terrifying last line I've ever read, throwing everything that has gone before into a horrifyingly mischievous darkness. Closing Granta 118 is Aleksander Hemon's moving memory of two dogs, Mek and Don, during and after the time of the bombardment of Sarajevo.