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Last Orders At Harrods: An African Tale Paperback – 1 Mar 2007

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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Abacus; Reprint edition (1 Mar. 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0349120099
  • ISBN-13: 978-0349120096
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 2.3 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 370,493 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

** 'A highly entertaining account of how people make the best of living in sub-Saharan Africa (Alexander McCall Smith, THE HERALD Books of the Year)

** 'Some devastatingly hilarious moments ... a satire that should be required bedtime reading at Gleneagles (SCOTSMAN)

** 'This wickedly satirical novel is also a serious critique of Africa's troubled state (GUARDIAN)

** 'Jolly good fun (DAILY MAIL)

Review

"Delightful, entertaining, profound." (Alexander McCall Smith)

"This wickedly satirical novel is also a serious critique of Africa's troubled state." (The Guardian)

"Jolly good fun." (The Daily Mail)

"African drumbeats leave you in no doubt of the setting. THIS Harrods is a bar-restaurant in a mythical East-African country; THAT Harrods threatens to sue over the name. Owner Charity is determined that her business will survive. What follows is a fictional stew of the continent's ongoing problems – disease, corruption, violence – treated somewhat tongue in cheek. Jerome Pride gets the satiric tone just right as he mines the treasure trove of characters – officious visiting Brits, resident Japanese, local government leaders, and juvenile gang members. Early on, Charity's father explains, in an infectious lilt, that he got the name 'Harrods' from a discarded shopping bag because Brit employers couldn't pronounce local monikers. Narrator Jerome Pride has no trouble, though. An edgy but delightful listen." (AudioFile Magazine) --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By NickMozartSmith on 7 Jun. 2005
Format: Paperback
The Harrods of the title of Michael Holman's powerful debut novel about the aid and development industry in Africa is not Mohamed Al-Fayed's large shop in Knightsbridge, rather it is a small bar in the slums of Kireba in the fictional East African state of Kuwisha. The bar is run by Charity Mupanga (it's named after her father), relict of a renowned bishop, and friend to the glue-sniffing, pick-pocketing street urchins around whom the story revolves. The cast of characters is enriched by aid workers, politicians and journalists, each working off their own agenda, and each to a certain degree suffering from what the author calls 'Afroholism'.
It seems that the story was intended to be a gentle comedy about Africa in the manner of, say, Alexander McCall Smith's No1 Ladies Detective Agency series. But, the problem is that the author is so angry about today's Africa that he simply cannot sustain the Swiftian satire. As he crosses the line into polemic, we empathise with him: as the former Africa correspondent of the FT he has seen at first hand more of the corruption, lies, poverty and disease than most.
Uneven in tone it may be, but Harrods is notwithstanding an immensely important book that fearlessly slaughters sacred cows, cuts through the rubbish and tells it as it is. The plot is educated farce, in the way that Tom Sharpe's novels are, but the message is deadly serious, and anyone who has ever felt an inexpressible anger at the Bob Geldof generation of self-appointed spokesmen for the continent will enjoy finding that with Holman, they are not alone.
Furthermore, Holman has caught the holier-than-thou 'aidspeak' vocabulary of the development business in Africa today with such painful and embarrassing accuracy that it is at times as difficult to read Last Orders at Harrods as it is to put down.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By I. Currans on 8 May 2007
Format: Paperback
I have to confess to feeling slightly guilty about my initial reactions to Michael Holman's affectionate tale of life in an East African shanty town.

I smiled my way through its 300 pages- laughed out loud when the banker (yes, banker) was discovered with a vaseline-smeared finger bending in front of the full-length mirror. I liked all the characters (stereotypes really)- the tough but heart of gold mama who owns Harrods, the sharp street-boys, the prim and dedicated aid-worker, the manipulating journalist, the bumbling British diplomat, even the pantomime-villain President.

Because it all plays out in such a gentle, laconic, humorous style that its not until you've finished it and reflect that you realise its built on the fundamental ills that continue to blight Africa- poverty, disease, corruption from within and political expediency from without.

So read it and think-for as they say in Kuwisha, "He who just taps the drum can make himself heard."
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By Cloggie Downunder TOP 500 REVIEWER on 9 Oct. 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
Last Orders at Harrods is the first book in the Kuwisha Trilogy by author Michael Holman. It is set in Kireba, the largest urban slum in Africa, located in the small East African nation of Kuwisha and features a cast of lively characters. Widowed owner of Harrods International Bar (and Nightspot), Charity Mupanga is getting irritated by the threatening letters from a firm of London lawyers regards the name of her establishment. Her suitor, Edward Furniver, manages the local savings co-op and has tried to help with correspondence, but has an irritation of his own, in a rather unmentionable place. World Feed rep, the cynical Lucy Gomball is delighted that cholera is a confirmed aftermath of the latest floods, hoping, via a swathe of journalists, to draw the world's attention (and hopefully, funds) to Kuwisha. About to repatriate, Financial News journalist Cecil Pearson has plans for a story to bring down lifelong President Josiah Nduka, plans involving glue-sniffing street boys, a pot-smoking kitchen toto and a tape recorder. While Nduka may be old, he is powerful, clever and determined to control his own fate. Holman's extensive experience of Africa is apparent on every page: politicians, diplomats, aid agencies, financial institutions, newspapers and even countries are easily recognisable; the extent of corruption and the forms that it takes are brilliantly illustrated; the vocabulary of code-words, watchwords and the terminology of communiques is comprehensively clarified; the feel of the African city slum is well conveyed. Holman's insightful novel also answers some burning questions about Africa: Why are the green traffic lights always smashed? What novel trick do street boys have for escaping police custody? To what lengths are street boys prepared to go to enter the football league?Read more ›
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This has intriguing plots and a certain kind of cynical humour as well as some slapstick fun. For me though, it lacked the kind of atmosphere that I seek in a novel that makes me want to 'be there'. Somehow it felt as though it was being observed from the outside, although realistically visualised, for example through the eyes of a homeless street urchin or a defensive but well-heeled charity worker or international banker. I found the split nation - somewhere between Kenya and Malawi took away from any impression of reality. It would have seemed more believable if the author had plumped for one place or the other instead of making a complicated mixture of language and national structure. Very well written and stating many truths about modern Africa - but I did not take pleasure from dwelling on the least positive aspects of life in Nairobi/Blantyre up to my ankles in unpleasant effluent. My friends, however, loved the book and that's why I bought it!
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