May 10, 2010

Six Months in Sudan

Back at the beginning of the year I decided i wanted to revamp my reading. Even though I got a bit behind in reviewing them I have kept up with reading new books, it's been really nice disappearing into worlds for a couple of minutes each night.

Six Months in Sudan by James Maskalyk is the story of a Canadian doctor as he travels to Sudan to work as a doctor for Médecins Sans Frontières.

The story is at times heart warming and at other times fills you with despair. It reminded me a little of The Jungle Doctor books I loved as a child – except something was different. It took me a while to work out what and I finally worked out that he never forms relationships with any of the Sudanese (apart from a few colleagues and one patient). It’s like he goes out of his way to avoid getting to know or understand any one or their culture. To me, someone who is interested in other cultures I found this hard and felt that the book (and he) missed a great opportunity.

But I can understand it - He has to battle with lack of resources, waring gangs, hot temperatures, diseases which would be easily cured in the western world. I think his way of coping was to stay in the shelter of the expat camp. And he was just there to be a doctor, not to minister to others.

The writing style is a little bitsy, which comes from the fact that it started as a blog. I’m quite use to reading blogs so I didn’t find any problem with that. However when I lent it to my Dad he found it really hard to get into the story because of the writing style.

I drank this book up, and was transported to the heat and grim and joys and trials of a small hospital in a war torn country. It opens your eyes to a world few people see and leaves you wanting more.

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