Blue Clay People: Seasons on Africa’s Fragile Edge – another one by William Powers. I liked this for all the same reasons I liked the last book of his I read, Twelve by Twelve.
But this one is even better because it provides such a captivating picture of what Liberia was like when he worked there in 1999. The book is a perfect mix of stories about every day life there, analysis of the de-foresting and diamond mining issues (without being boring), and drama in his personal life.
One chapter that was a little heartbreaking was when he returns home to the U.S. for a mandatory leave a year into his job. He was in long distance relationship with his serious girlfriend and has dinner with her and her friends who are talking about their big diamond engagement rings, five figure corporate dinner tabs, and fancy new furniture. He doesn’t know how to react.
They had been talking about engagement, but break up by the time he returns to Liberia.
Although I’ve never been to a third world country or had a relationship end because of ideological issues, I could empathize.
Once you’ve realized the disgusting truth about something, whether it’s what kind of destruction may have occurred to produce your beautiful furniture or how much an animal has suffered to produce that meal you’re eating… it’s hard to go back to taking enjoyment in those things.
There are lots of funny moments in the book too though, I’d recommend it to anyone. So go check out Blue Clay People.