* A non-political travel book about South Africa.
Near the southern tip of Africa, there is a mountain that does a conjuring trick with the biggest tablecloth on earth. In a sacred forest near the Limpopo river, there is a bird that flies on wings of thunder, flashing lightning from its eyes and bearing rain in its beak. In between, there is a hauntingly beautiful land and millions of confused people. When Archbishop Desmond Tutu dubbed his native South Africa the 'Rainbow Nation', he conjured a vision of ethnic diversity and harmony in a country with eleven official languages, two national anthems, and a parliament that shuttled between two cities. As a foreign correspondent reporting on the last days of apartheid, Gavin Bell thought it was a brave image and wondered how long it would endure. A few years later, he returned to find out what had happened to Tutu's rainbow. In his travels he found a country at odds with itself, swinging between hope and despair, buoyed by a sense of freedom and haunted by a fear of violent crime. SOMEWHERE OVER THE RAINBOW is not only a fine travel book by an award-winning writer, it is a compelling portrait of a country in search of an identity. The leopard stories are good too.
Wry and deft ... travel writing of a high order, given steel by [Bell's] keen understanding of the country's contradictions - DAILY TELEGRAPH
A fine, gentle and loving travel book about South Africa which captures the magic of the land and the warmth of its peoples - SCOTSMAN
Wherever Bell goes, he brings a gimlet eye to the human and unusual - YORKSHIRE POST
One of life's great wanderers, at home when he is away ... a lucid, deeply informative and highly entertaining piece of travel prose - GLASGOW HERALD
A warm, sane and illuminating book - Ned Sherrin