Seeking escape from his boring life, Paul Rainer arrives from the United States to the South Central African country, Zambia. Adapting quickly to the lackadaisical happiness of the land of the Soli people, his rugged, handsome features and southern charm serve him well as he deals with the people, their culture, the poverty and death that covers their land.
Paul finds himself thrust into situations with unscrupulous characters and zealots wanting to capitalize on Zambia's recent release from its 30 year dictatorship rule. Pulled into a web of deception and greed he finds camaraderie and passion when he meets up with a local colonial, Cheryl, a gentle, serenely wise beauty. Instead of relief from the drama surrounding him, he finds meeting her is only the beginning of his Zambian adventure.
Listen to Suzambia being interviewed by Kenny Gman about the book.
Review in the Zambian newspaper
Bulletin and Record:
Daze in Lusaka
In it but not of it
Review by Mel Phiri
Serendipity is probably the most fitting term for the appearance of Suzanna (Suzambia) Fisher's bookstores as our centenary year of Lusaka comes to a close.
The book is a light-hearted sketch tracing the fading culture of expatriates immediately before and over the couple of decades immediately after Zambian independence in October 1964. Dominating relationships are explained through the eyes of Cheryl, the ex-colonial returned. Historical events are interwoven with the aspirations of an archetypical intrepid American adventurer called Paul, questionable business operators and much of the stuff that Southern African fiction has come to be known for, including the spectra of AIDS.
The author takes license with familiar hames and locations making the tale open to more than a few readings between the lines. However, for me, the caveat in black-and-white that the book is "entirely fictional" anticipates the readier keeping an open mind and enjoying the storytelling for what it is.
The biographical lines blur when you have the opportunity to met the author, Suzanna, in person. Her experiences traverse four continents for about the same amount of decades. It could be taken that the novel represents personal closure on the romanticism of spending her formative years in Zambia. Especially since the author admits to having "taken ages" to finish the book even after regular visits. But personally she gives little away, while being generally bright and engaging on the challenges of writing and publishing.
Then there are the quotes that open each chapter which seem to speak closest of the author herself. Knowing the time and location of the novel so well, I found myself searching for a quote of my own to define our short meeting. I had chosen the venue - a small Chinese restaurant nestled in a leafy suburb of of Lusaka - clearly not part of her novel's setting. Again, totally my makeup, they were lyrics of the legendary Stevie Wonder that resonated best; "If you're in it but not of it, then God knew exactly where he wanted you to be placed!"
Finding a place for Ninety Daze in Lusaka and by association 'Suzambia' on your beside table should guarantee any true Lusakan a smile or two.