Monday, 24 July 2017

The Everlasting challenges of Malawi, by Jo Carroll

Well, I've finally managed to publish my Malawian travels on kindle (and other e-platforms). This has been a difficult book to write - wherever I went I met people eager to give me their opinions on the aid industry. And I went with First World assumptions about the importance of overseas aid and its role in changing the lives of those living in poverty - views I ended up questioning but finding no answers.

And so I've left the reader with my unanswered questions. Should I have plucked solutions, rather than leave a reader uncomfortable? Or is it fine to present the challenges and leave the reader to think about them?

This dilemma was part of the reason for choosing my title: Everlasting. 80% of the population of Malawi lives in poverty - and I could see no evidence of a co-ordinated of effort to challenge that. The big organisations don't seem to be trying to work themselves out of a job. At the same time, there are some magnificent, locally-driven projects that are changing lives. 

But the title is more than a reflection of the problems faced by the country. For it is also the name of my guide - that's him on the cover. We had six weeks together. He is an extraordinary man. He filled long drives with stories - some of which have made it into my book. He looked out for me, kept me safe, picked me up when I slipped in the mud. And we talked about families - his family, my family, and it became the context in which I came to understand some of the complexities of African life. (He has given all necessary permissions for me to write about him and to use his picture.)



Just before I published this I typed ‘Everlasting’ into the search box on Amazon - and was rewarded with pages of romance. I sat for a while and played with alternative titles. None reflected what, for me, is the essence of this book: I needed a title that put my guide at the centre of the stage, and that indicated some of the complexities of the country. 


So there we are. Everlasting it is. You can find it on amazon here. And there are photographs if you follow links on my website: www.jocarroll.co.uk

5 comments:

Lynne Garner said...

Jo I think it's more than fine to present the challenges and leave the reader to think about them. It's a great way of engaging with the reader and allowing them to perhaps come up with some of the answers.

Bill Kirton said...

I agree with Lynne. Solutions would be great but setting out the issues and spreading awareness of them based on the sort of immersion you've experienced is crucial. Also, honouring Everlasting through the title and by putting him on the cover is a beautiful gesture. Good luck with the book.

Penny Dolan said...

When much of what's written about the aid industry comes in the positive language of promotion and fund-raising, seeks to offer an emotional response (for fund-raising) or is linked to some kind of political angle, necessary promotion or celebrity self-promotion, I think your EVERLASTING will stand as a clear and useful piece of work, Jo. Some problems don't have endings.

JO said...

Many thanks, all three of you - this little book has been a challenge, so your support is truly appreciated.

Dipika Mukherjee said...

Good luck with the book...looks very interesting!