A quick plug for a book I just finished – Romain Gary's Les Racines du Ciel, which now gains pride of place among my running favorites (alongside Vladimir Nabokov's Speak, Memory, Sven Lindqvist's A History of Bombing, and Caroline Moorehead's Gellhorn – yes, I admit to odd taste).
Gary is the only person to have won the Prix Goncourt twice (like the Nobel, you're only supposed to win once, but Gary won again under a pen name). Les Racines du Ciel (The Roots of Heaven in English), published in 1955, is a remarkably prescient book about elephants and ecology in Chad in the late-40s. The world it portrays seems eerily similar to the Central Africa of today, except for the great shadow cast by the Second World War, which looms large in the narrative and provides a reminder of the need for...something indefinable, which saving the elephants comes to stand in for – something to do with all that is good in human – and animal – relations.
Looking in the Mirror (Part 2 of 3)
4 days ago