Scribbling the Cat: Travels with an African Soldier by Alexandra Fuller - review by Aidan Hartley

Aidan Hartley

The Lost White Tribe

Scribbling the Cat: Travels with an African Soldier

By

Picador 256pp £16.99 order from our bookshop
 

No recent book about white Africans has sold as well as Alexandra Fuller's debut, Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight. Fuller drew on rich raw material in that story (her own upbringing in a farming family beset by all manner of travails in southern Africa), which could have been a masterpiece had it been written more elegantly and with guts. In Scribbling the Cat, Fuller suddenly proves that she can write like a dream after all, and do so with an excoriating honesty. Unfortunately, this time she has much less of a story to tell than in her first book. I love this book but I see it, like the first one, as a near miss that could have been so much more.

Fuller's greatest achievement is that, as in Dogs, she brilliantly captures the verities of life for ordinary whites in modern southern Africa. Her success owes much to her ability to capture the slang and rhythms of speech of a certain category of white Africans. It is by their dialogue that

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