Book: A Good Man in Africa

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A Good Man in Africa: A Novel

Author: William Boyd
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Publisher: Vintage

In the small African republic of Kinjanja, British diplomat Morgan Leafy bumbles heavily through his job. His love of women, his fondness for drink, and his loathing for the country prove formidable obstacles on his road to any kind of success. But when he becomes an operative in Operation Kingpin and is charged with monitoring the front runner in Kinjanja’s national elections, Morgan senses an opportunity to achieve real professional recognition and, more importantly, reassignment.

After he finds himself being blackmailed, diagnosed with a venereal disease, attempting bribery, and confounded with a dead body, Morgan realizes that very little is going according to plan.

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Morgan Leafy had high hopes when he first headed out to the small African nation of Kinjanja to serve as Her British Majesty’s representative. But once there, Leafy’s dreams of professional advancement and personal happiness soon fade: this son of an airport catering manager finds himself overtaken on the career ladder by other, newer recruits to the diplomatic corps who come from the right family and attended the right schools. What’s worse, the girl of his dreams has just become engaged to someone younger, thinner, and better connected. And if all this weren’t enough to make a career civil servant miserable, Leafy is also being blackmailed by a representative of one of Kinjanja’s many political parties who has presented him with a puzzling task: get to know the Scottish medical doctor at a local university.

Author William Boyd has written about Africa before, most notably in his bestselling novel Brazzaville Beach. In A Good Man in Africa, Boyd spins a darkly comic tale of political corruption, revolution, sexual misadventure, blackmail, and death. By novel’s end, Leafy may not have become a better man—or even a much wiser one—but he has acquired a kind of dignity and gritty courage for which he is well suited.

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