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Rough Rides in Dry Places

by Gaye Shortland (Poolbeg)

Irish Times: Sat, Dec 22, 2001



Gaye Shortland's debut novel*, Mind That 'tis My Brother, was of a pretty weird bent: so weird, that one might have thought she must be a gay man in literary drag. It was followed by another gay comedy set in Cork, Turtles All the Way Down then, swiftly, by three comic novels set in Africa, of which this is the latest. Turns out she isn't a gay man, but a woman with three children - who had the unusual experience of being married to a member of the Tuareg tribe of Saharan nomads. This gives her a well-rooted sense of the realities of desert life: marketplace etiquette, border protocols, and the shimmering deceptions of inter-cultural cross-currents.  Reality, however, isn't really Gaye Shortland's bag. Her literary trademarks are lunacy and sex, and there are plenty of both in this ditzy, romp which sets a cast of lusty ex-pat academics (one of whom is, of course, rampantly gay) loose among the dunes. Think William Boyd's Our Man In Africa, only madder: preferably, though, don't think at all, just lie back and enjoy.


*Correction: The review originally said Gaye's debut novel was Turtles All The Way Down.

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