Ethiopia Through Writers’ Eyes
Yves-Marie Stranger (ed.) Eland Publishing Ltd Published: July 2016 Price: £14.99
In Ethiopia Through Writers’
Eyes Yves- Marie Stranger makes an unorthodox case for Ethiopia as a literary act of creation, a country written into existence by Greek historians, the Bible, the Holy Koran, and a host of dreamy armchair travellers, from Doctor Johnson to anonymous Abyssinian monks.
The anthology brings together a coterie of wouldbe midwives, ranging from Herodotus to Prester John, by way of Edgar Allan Poe and Edward Gibbon (and some 77 other authors, from the journalist Stanley to Dervla Murphy), who conspire to birth a strange land made up of legend and fact in equal measures.
Remote countries – to paraphrase a title of Evelyn Waugh, also anthologized here – no longer exist, or so we are led to believe. But today, Ethiopia still remains very largely an unknown, more often obscured than it is revealed by its wealth of writings. If Stranger at times stretches his cartographic metaphor, the device does nevertheless provide a robust compass with which to plumb anew the abyss of Ethiopia’s rich literary heritage with great imagination.