Sunday, November 7, 2010

Roberta Gately

A nurse, humanitarian aid worker, and writer, Roberta Gately has served in third-world war zones ranging from Africa to Afghanistan. She has written extensively on the subject of refugees for the Journal of Emergency Nursing, as well as a series of articles for the BBC Worlds News Online. She speaks regularly on the plight of the world's refugees and displaced.

Booklist called her new novel Lipstick in Afghanistan an “[a]bsorbing debut… In this utterly engrossing read, Gately vividly evokes the beauty and tragedy of Afghanistan.”

A couple of days ago I asked Gately what she was reading. Her reply:
I am currently reading Tea Time For The Traditionally Built, the latest in the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series by Alexander McCall Smith. This series is a guaranteed pleasure read. The main character, Precious Ramotswe is a large – she prefers the phrase “traditionally built” – woman in Botswana who runs the only detective agency in the city of Gaborone and I’ve happily followed her adventures since she was introduced by McCall in the book titled, The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency.

The series takes the reader on a joyful plunge into life in Botswana. Though I’ve been to Africa several times, I’ve never been to Botswana and yet McCall has the gift of making me feel as though I know the area intimately. I can see Zebra Drive and feel the groan of Precious Ramotswe’s old white van as it rounds the curve to home. I can feel her reluctance a she investigates the inner workings of the failing footballers in this latest installment of the series.

It’s cliché to call the series charming, but that’s precisely what it is. The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series allows me to escape everything and climb into Precious’ rickety old van for a ride along Botswana’s dusty roads. Though I also love more serious novels – I’ve just finished The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and The Girl Who Played With Fire, and adored them both for their thought provoking dramatic twists and powerful storylines, I turn to McCall’s series for pure and gentle reading pleasure.
Visit Roberta Gately's website and blog.

--Marshal Zeringue