Book Talk: Graham Greene inspires writer on African adventure

Wed Jan 5, 2011 5:30am EST
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By Michael Taylor

LONDON (Reuters) - Following the footsteps of author Graham Greene through remote rainforest and malarial swamps in some of the most dangerous parts of Africa was a challenge Tim Butcher relished for his latest book.

The Cape Town-based writer's new book "Chasing the Devil" is an account of his attempt to re-discover a route by rail and truck through Sierra Leone and then on foot across Liberia which Greene described in "Journey Without Maps."

Butcher, a former war correspondent, is no stranger to epic journeys. His first book "Blood River," was a British bestseller about his attempt to travel down the Congo river.

He spoke to Reuters about his new book.

Q: What was the motivation behind the current book?

A: "Fear and frustration motivate the journey described in Chasing the Devil. I wanted to know more about Sierra Leone and Liberia, countries that rarely feature on the radar of world attention. And I was frustrated that while covering them as a journalist during their civil wars I had never been able to get more than a part picture. It left me feeling as if I had a stone in my shoe, a niggle I wanted to deal with once and for all."

Q: Your first book Blood River was set in the Democratic Republic of Congo, while Chasing the Devil details travels in Sierra Leone and Liberia - why Africa?

A: "Because Africa is framed by outsiders in simplistic terms either as a place of political crisis, corruption and chaos or of gentle safaris enjoyed by tourists. I wanted to get past the simplistic, to better understand the reality endured by millions of Africans trapped in a reality so different from the rest of the world."   Continued...