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Last Orders At Harrods: An African Tale [Paperback]

Michael Holman
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
Price: 9.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Book Description

1 Mar 2007

Charity Mupanga is the widowed owner of Harrods International Bar (and Nightspot) - a favourite meeting place for the movers and shakers of Kibera. While she can handle most challenges, from an erratic supply of Worcestershire sauce, the secret ingredient in her cooking, to the political tensions in East Africa's most notorious slum and a cholera outbreak that follows the freak floods in the state of Ubuntu, some threatening letters from London lawyers are beginning to overwhelm her.

Well-meant but inept efforts to foil the lawyers by Edward Furniver, a former fund manager who runs Kibera's co-operative bank, bring Harrods International Bar to the brink of disaster, and Charity close to despair. In the nick of time an accidental riot, triggered by World Bank President Hardwick Hardwicke's visit to the slum, coupled with some quick thinking by Titus Ntoto, the 14-year-old leader of Kibera's toughest gang, the Mboya Boys United Football Club, help Charity - and Harrods - to triumph in the end.


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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: 19 x 12 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 460,965 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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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)

Book Description

* A timely and satirical - yet affectionate - portrait of the ups and downs of life in contemporary Africa

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Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars
4.0 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Drinking in Africa's last chance saloon 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
4.0 out of 5 stars A Long Way from Knightsbridge 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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Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Of interest to anyone who has lived abroad especially in Africa but rather the story rambles on with minimum structure and no defined ending possibly as there are sequels to follow.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A satirical feast. 9 Oct 2013
By Cloggie Downunder TOP 500 REVIEWER
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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5.0 out of 5 stars well written, lovely story, great characters 8 Nov 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
If you enjoy the style of no.1 Ladies Detective then you will probably like this too. It's an easy read but a bit more real, skirts round issues of orphans and street living but in a very positive way. A good story with great characters, I am looking forward to reading the next in the trilogy.
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