HAYAT: On the Side of Life by Mariapia Fanfani

HAYAT: On the Side of Life

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What could (and should) have been a moving and inspirational recounting of efforts to relieve the drought-stricken nations of Africa in 1985 turns out to be a work as monotonous as the African deserts themselves. Written by the Vice-President of the International Red Cross-Red Crescent and the wife of a former Prime Minister of Italy, this reads like a report to a board of directors, filled with statistics about containers of foodstuffs, clothing, farm equipment. There is no doubting Fanfani's sense of commitment nor her organizational skills in heading the relief efforts that took her from the Sudan to Tunis, following the course of the cargo-laden Ship of Peace. What the author is unwilling or unable to dramatize for the reader are the human dimensions of the tragedy. True, there are occasional episodes in which Fanfani encounters such individuals as Alhader, a crippled child in Gao, and there are brief descriptions of the gallantry and dedication of the missionaries and Red Cross workers with whom she came in contact. But, for the most part, the journey is described in generalities. Fanfani is no more successful when she turns her attention to the character of the locales themselves. There is a sameness here that first fails to engage, then bores through repetitiousness. A disappointing account of a noble venture.

Pub Date: Oct. 26th, 1988
Publisher: Simon & Schuster