Our library theme for 2020 is Your Library Card, Your Ticket to the World–because with the library, you truly can travel around the world without ever leaving the comfort of your own home. Every month in 2020, we’ll be landing at a new place on the globe. In August, we’re in Botswana.
If you love mysteries:
Alexander McCall Smith’s No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series (1998-present)*
Thirty-something Precious Ramotswe uses her family inheritance to establish a detective agency in Gaborone, Botswana, making her the first female PI in the country. Her theory is that the best way to solve a crime (or any problem) is to know people, and to that end, the focus in this charming series from Zimbabwean-born Alexander McCall Smith is its characters. Botswana also emerges as a character in its own right. The 21st book in the series–How to Raise an Elephant–is slated for release next month.
*Series available as ebooks on Libby.
Recommended for those who enjoy the work of Agatha Christie and C. Alan Bradley.
Michael Stanley’s Detective Kubu series (2008-present)
If you like your mysteries grittier, then try this series (penned by two South African writers who write under the pen name of Michael Stanley). They focus on cases investigated by police detective David “Kubu” Bengu. As with McCall Smith’s mysteries, the setting in Botswana is an essential element, though the mystery is more of the focus here than with McCall Smith. A prequel and the 7th book in the series (Facets of Death) was released earlier this year, and it would be a good entry point for the series–it starts with Kubu’s early police career, in which he is hired as a detective straight out of university, much to the chagrin of his coworkers who had to work their way up through the police department.
Recommended for those who enjoy the work of Kwei Quartey.
If you prefer YA:
Jessica Khoury’s Kalahari (2015)
Sarah has spent her life in remote locations because of the work her biologists parents do. Though still grieving her mother’s accidental death, she finds herself in over her head when her father abruptly leaves their camp in the unforgiving Kalahari Desert to pursue some poachers and doesn’t return. That leaves Sarah responsible for the other teens in the camp, who are there for a safari. How will they survive? Who are these poachers her father is after? What really happened to her mom? Complications ensue.
Recommended for those who enjoy YA biological thrillers.
If you want to read nonfiction:
Mark and Delia Owens’ books**
Delia Owens skyrocketed to acclaim and a wider audience a couple of years ago with Where the Crawdads Sing. Before that, though, the zoologist and her former husband Mark were active in animal research and conversation in Africa, first in Botswana and then in Zambia. Delia Owens tends to downplay her time in Africa now–saying an odyssey that included a still open homicide investigation, expulsion from Botswana, legal advice to never return to Zambia again, and comparisons of her then-husband to Colonel Kurtz from Heart of Darkness didn’t end well would be an understatement. But we actually do have a couple of the Owens’ books about their time in Africa in the system if you’re interested in reading their side of it.
**Cry of the Kalahari is available as an ebook on Libby
Recommended for those who enjoy conservation-themed nonfiction.
P.S. Don’t mention Mark and Delia Owens to Julie. 🙂
If you’d rather watch a movie:
A United Kingdom (2017)
This historical romance is based on the true story of Seretse Khama and his wife Ruth. Khama was the heir to Bechuanaland (pre-independence Botswana), but his decision to marry an Englishwoman in the 1940s was a controversial one, angering both their families and creating tension with neighboring South Africa, which had just instituted apartheid. Stars David Oyelowo and Rosamund Pike.
The Gods Must Be Crazy (1980)
Partially filmed in Botswana, this raucous comedy is about Xi, a member of the San tribe who live in the Kalahari Desert. One day, Xi comes across a Coke bottle that a pilot has thrown out of an airplane. Xi believes that the bottle is a gift from the gods and embarks on a journey to return it to them.
What’s your favorite book set in Botswana? Who’s your favorite African author? Have you ever been to Botswana? Tell us in the comments! As always, please follow this link to our online library catalog for more information on any of these items or to place them on hold.