Reviewed by Bonnie Lee Black ( Gabon 199698)
SOMALIA, THAT EASTERNMOST African country jutting into the Indian Ocean like an arrowhead, has been in the news again. Not, this time, for its wars, assassinations, drought, famine, chaos, anarchy, or other grotesque sorrows, but because of the tsunami. The wall of water that recently wreaked havoc in Indonesia took its toll on the coastline of East Africa, too: A U. N. assessment made in early January showed that some 54,000 people in Somalia were badly affected by the disaster. More than 300 people have been reported dead. Coastal villages and towns are now submerged in water. Sadly, this is the latest chapter in Somalias ongoing tale of woe.
Morrows stories of Africa, Horses Like the Wind, take place during this brief interlude in Somalias history when hope ran high. Each of the nine, beautifully crafted chapters gives us a slim slice of life then: the Italian schoolboys in their stucco classroom who had no inkling from the sisters that Italy had lost Somalia first to the British, then to the United Nations, and finally to the Somalis themselves; the 24-year-old woman from Oregon who came to Somalia for solitude; the troubled history teacher from Britain who disappeared, leaving only his poetry behind; and the gallant Arab horses, kicking up dust in their wake, the way the wind does.
In another story, a beggar boy asks the young white man for a shirt.
Mr. Morrow, a widely published author, landscape architect and professor of landscape architecture at UNM-Albuquerque, is, in addition, an accomplished artist. His black-and-white illustrations, as haunting and evocative as his writing, enhance every chapter.
Bonnie Lee Black (Gabon 1996-68) is the author of Somewhere Child and was a writer, editor, and caterer in New York City before joining the Peace Corps. She now lives in northern New Mexico and teaches English at UNM-Taos.