About the book
Sold toSold to: Czech Republic, Denmark: Gyldendal, Estonia: Varrak, Finland: Schildts, France: Actes Sud, Germany: Btb, Netherlands: World Editions, Norway: Forlaget Press, UK/US: World Editions
“A storm blew in from paradise. That storm was life.”
A young man is sitting in a small cage in a Tanzanian jail. His name is P and his greatest dream is to fly. Up until quite recently everything had been looking promising. He had come to Greece to be trained at the Hellenic Air Force Academy in Dekelia, just outside Athens, chosen to be a pilot and an officer in the Ugandan Air Force. Soon he would be soaring through the skies in an unpainted, polished aluminium MIG-21.
But then, on 26 January 1971, the news of a coup in his homeland reaches him. Idi Amin has taken power. Shortly thereafter all Ugandan aviation cadets are ordered home by Amin’s state machine. It is in that moment that P makes his life’s most crucial choice: to defect and stay in Greece. After that, nothing turns out like he imagined. He’s not allowed to fly in Europe, and in despair he accepts a job in Zambia as a crop dusting pilot. But as he lands he is taken into custody and transported to a Tanzanian jail.
P is afraid; afraid that he will be sent back to Uganda to be prosecuted for treason; afraid that he will die here without anybody knowing; afraid that they have already killed his family back home.
Over a period of many years, we follow P’s struggles – as a refugee, as a military camp prisoner, as a man on the run. He never stops dreaming of a life as a pilot, but he’ll never get to fly again. Johannes Anyuru has written an extraordinary novel about his own father’s fate, a read which stays with you for a long time. This is a novel about survival, and one man’s unfulfilled dream to fly.