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Poor Mercy
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Publication Date
01 January 2005
Available as an eBook only
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Birlinn Limited

Poor Mercy

by Jonathan Falla - Find out more about the author


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This title is available as an eBook only

‘An unusual love story told with insight and tenderness, it is studded with beautifully observed descriptions of place’ – Jennie Renton, Scottish Review of Books

'Poor Mercy is a vivid, engrossing work of fiction’ – Michel Faber, Guardian

Poor Mercy fulfils an important function, preserving a wretched moment in history, giving substance to events that would otherwise soon be forgotten in favour of the next humanitarian crisis’ – Claudia Pugh-Thomas, TLS

Set in Darfur, this novel is a dramatic and tragic story of an improbable love between two people caught up in an African famine: Mogga and Leila, a black and an Arab, should supposedly not even like each other. But as the country teeters on the edge of catastrophic famine and civil war looms, they cling to each other’s dignity, humour and humanity. Both work for the same European aid agency. Both are vulnerable, targets for hatred and resentment. Both are strangely, triumphantly resilient.

Based on his own experience of disaster agencies, Falla’s novel is fiercely authentic, poignant and darkly witty. As the expatriates bicker, their English team leader struggles to unravel the evil politics behind the famine, and reaches a highly controversial decision. But he may not be able to save the local people who have put themselves on the line. The foreigners can always take themselves off home when things go wrong; for the locals, it may already be too late as the book builds towards a terrifying climax.

Jonathan Falla worked intermittently for various aid agencies overseas for fourteen years before moving to Scotland to concentrate on writing. He also worked as a part-time nurse, and as well as writing and reviewing for the press, he is a successful playwright. He lives in Fife.