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May 16 , 2009

When A Crocodile Eats the Sun


Peter Godwin, an award-winning writer, is on assignment in Zululand when he is summoned by his mother to Zimbabwe, his birthplace. His father is seriously ill; she fears he is dying. Godwin finds his country, once a post-colonial success story, descending into a vortex of violence and racial hatred.

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Growing up in Rhodesia in the 1960s, Peter Godwin inhabited a magical and frightening world of leopard-hunting, lepers, witch doctors, snakes and forest fires. As an adolescent, a conscript caught in the middle of a vicious civil war, and then as an adult who returned to Zimbabwe as a journalist to cover the bloody transition to majority rule, he…

His father recovers, but over the next few years Godwin travels regularly between his family life in Manhattan and the increasing chaos of Zimbabwe, with its rampant inflation and land seizures making famine a very real prospect. It is against this backdrop that Godwin discovers a fifty-year-old family secret, one which changes everything he thought he knew about his father, and his own place in the world.

Peter Godwin’s book combines vivid reportage, moving personal stories and revealing memoir, and traces his family’s quest to belong in hostile lands – a quest that spans three continents and half a century.

‘Heartbreaking . . . Godwin plainly loves Africa, and he captures the baffling wayward contradictions of its people, their cruelties and unexpected kindnesses, their nobility of spirit in the face of appalling conditions, with humour and grace’ Daily Mail

‘A wonderful book . . . beautifully written, packed with insight and free of rancour’ Literary Review

‘A strong, heroic book . . . too vivid to bear and too central to our concerns to ignore’ Edmund White

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