I’m thrilled to be on this blog tour today for Our Memory Like Dust by Gavin Chait with my review. A big thank you to Rosie Margesson for inviting me!
About this book…
Why do we tell stories? To hold on to what has been loved and lost, to create new myths, to explain and teach in ways that seep into memory.
Shakiso Collard leads the evacuation from Benghazi as jihadis overwhelm the refugee camp where she works. On arrival in Paris, she is betrayed by her boss, Oktar Samboa, and watches in despair as those she illegally helped escape are deported back to the warzones of Libya.
Elsewhere, Farinata Uberti – strongman CEO of Rosneft, the world’s largest energy company – arrives in London after triggering a violent insurrection in Tanzania to destroy a potential rival in the oil market. In the Sahara, an air convoy on its way to deliver billions of dollars of drugs and weapons to Ansar Dine jihadis crashes and is lost.
A year later, having spent months in hiding, Shakiso travels to West Africa. She is there to lead the relief effort that are hoping to stop the 200 million refugees fleeing war and environmental collapse heading for a fortified and fragmented Europe.
As the myths of these millions seeking new lives across the Mediterranean intrude into reality, Shakiso is drawn into the brutal clandestine fight against Rosneft’s domination of European energy supplies being conducted by the mysterious Simon Adaro. And, deep within the disorienting Harmattan storms of the desert, a group of jihadis have gone in search of the crashed convoy of planes – and a terror that could overwhelm them all.
I did read and enjoy the debut novel by Gavin Chair so was intrigued by his newest book especially as that stunning cover certainly entices you in. I have always been fascinated by the themes of memory both in fiction and real life, especially within the origins of folklore. For myself, family stories are a way of keeping previous generations alive and they are passed from parent to child. I’m often asked by my grandchildren to “tell me the story of when Great Grandma/Grandpa/Mummy did ******”. All of these stories are now part of our family history and they somehow change slightly, mutating the more they are told.
For the first eight chapters of Our Memory Like Dust, I have to admit I was very confused. There were so many characters introduced within multiple threads that I ended up taking notes, something I never really do but felt I had to have something to refer to as I continued to read. Once we meet Shakiso in Chapter Nine, things started to fall into place and the narrative flowed easier for me then although I still had to refer back to notes occasionally.
Set within a dystopian future, mainly on the African continent, there is plenty within this novel that we can relate to within today’s political climate and I think that’s what scared and fascinated me the most here, that it was a future which doesn’t seem that far off or unlikely! This books has so many themes under its futuristic umbrella that are relevant to today society such as terrorism, immigration and the damage to our natural environment. It is no wonder one of the solutions here has been to colonise Mars! As the thousands of “seekers” leave their homelands due to the horrors of war, searching for a better life away from the refugee camps, they become entangled in the politics of a society powered by greed and the need for commodities such as energy and arms. Although Shakiso is an experienced aid worker working to help them, it seems that their necessary requirements go beyond what anyone can deliver and the camps are not meeting those needs. As the threads of these stories gradually weave together and the relationships between characters becomes clearer, the plot slowly builds up its momentum until the shocking denouement brings everything together.
Twisted throughout are the stories and myths and these were perfectly placed to break up the narrative adding a poignancy to the circumstances and events surrounding the characters. They marked a parallel dimension from where we see hope for the future of mankind through the spellbinding tales passed down by each generation as they make them their own. This cleverly constructed storyline is unlike anything I’ve ever encountered before with its complex and imaginative methodology as it gradually reveals it’s secrets.
This isn’t an easy read but it’s a book I’m very glad I did read and its mythology has stayed with me, hovering around me like a ghostly presence which you will understand if you read it. There is a wonderful line that says “And drifting through the air, memory like dust spreads and settles. That none may forget.” Stunning isn’t it? Our Memory Like Dust journeys through a rich and evocative descriptive narrative with an almost poetic, prophetic voice that will resonate in today’s society. A powerful and thought provoking experience.
Our Memory Like Dust is published by Transworld Digital and is available to purchase now from Amazon UK.
Meet the author…
Born in Cape Town in 1974, Gavin Chait emigrated to the UK nearly ten years ago. He has degrees in Microbiology & Biochemistry, and Electrical Engineering. He is an economic development strategist and data scientist, and has travelled extensively in Africa, Latin America, Europe and Asia and is now based in Oxford. His first novel, Lament for the Fallen, was critically acclaimed (Eric Brown in the Guardian called it ‘a compulsively readable, life affirming tale’). Our Memory Like Dust is his second.