Swimming on the Lawn
Yasmin Hamid, Fremantle Press, $16.99
This beautifully written novel paints a delightful picture of a girl growing up, as did its author, in 1960s Khartoum with an English mother, a Sudanese father and three lively siblings. There are visits to the library to borrow all the classical children’s tales, breakfast at 10 with beans and salad and a treat of peanut-stuffed tomatoes, and routine maintenance including having mattresses recovered and walls limed. There is a journey with an uncle by boat, train and donkey to a village overlooked by ancient pyramids, and big festivals such as the prophet’s birthday with pressed sugar treats for the children. The book ends tragically with the first intimations of the civil war that will destroy its peaceful, civilised lifestyle and blight the country to this day.