Asia, move over. It’s official; Africa is the current hot exotic continent. Writes Amanda Craig in her reviews of three new teen adventure books in today’s Times:
AFRICA HAS BECOME the most fashionable setting for film and, now, for children’s fiction. Perhaps it took the delightful Alexander McCall Smith’s The No 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series to remind us that the continent doesn’t have to be all doom and Joseph Conrad. It can also be a place of modern adventure.
So, yes, the continent is certainly not all doom and “Mistah Kurtz — he dead.” And Smith’s Botswana-set stories do provide an authentic feel for one tiny place in that very large and diverse continent. But is the fact that these new thrillers of the Alex Rider/James Bond sort are set in Africa what is most significant about them? (Of the three books reviewed, I’m most intrigued by Sarah Mussi’s Door of No Return.)
Yes, Africa is hot. (Well, actually it is the rainy season in Sierra Leone and less hot than other times of the year, but whatever.) Hot here being a state of cultural consciousness or popularity or something like that. And as far as I can tell, that hotness has yet to translate into those of us on the North American continent (and that island across the pond) having a more nuanced understanding of Africa and a stronger consciousness of our propensity to be, shall we say, arrogant in our feeling of superiority over those whose history has created a very different way of being.