The Kalahari Typing School for Men

The Kalahari Typing School for Men - Alexander McCall Smith I enjoyed this, as I have enjoyed the other No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency books I have read - it is slight, and the detective element is minimal to nonexistent, but the non-threatening foreignness of both characters and landscape (some of which rings bells with my two years in Africa as a child) are appealing and keep the interest going. I must admit I also enjoy how dominant the women are, even in a patriarchal society.

McCall Smith gives himself a cameo in this one, I think, during a scene at Dr. Moffat's house, where Precious is looking at family photographs:

"And this person standing behind them? The man who is looking at the camera?"

"That is somebody who comes to stay with us from time to time," said Mrs. Moffat. "He writes books."

Mma Ramotswe examined the photograph more closely. "It seems that he is looking at me," she said. "He is smiling at me."

"Yes," said Mrs. Moffat. "Maybe he is."

I get easily irritated these days by churchy morality tales, but for some reason this little fable of sins confessed and redemption by works didn't bother me too much, perhaps because I believe McCall Smith's perception that Botswana has a self-image as a less corrupt, more morally solid nation than its neighbours, and that Mma Ramotswe is very much an embodiment of that culture. I therefore try to chase away the troubling analogies with modern-day Russia, and try not to ask Precious too many hard questions in my mind.

And I do love the image of a bunch of self-important men sitting pecking away at half-functional typewriters at the bidding of a woman (who got 97% at her secretarial school!)