New Novel Set in Kenya Evokes Graham Greene and John le Carré

May 12 16:21 2021

LaPuerta Books and Media announces release of Harry Harambee’s Kenyan Sundowner, the eleventh novel by award-winning author Gerald Everett Jones. The on-sale date is set for June 29, 2021. This is literary fiction with geopolitical overtones, reminiscent of The Heart of the Matter by Graham Greene and The Constant Gardener by John le Carré.

Locals tease main character Harry with the surname “Harambee,” the Kenyan national motto meaning something like, One for All. He’s not sure whether that means he’s being played. He is a lonely widower from Los Angeles who has bought a tour package to East Africa on the promise of hookups and parties. What he finds instead are new reasons to live.

Slick Italian tour operator Aldo Barbieri convinces Harry to join a group of adventuresome “voluntourists.” In a sleepy resort town on the white sands of the Indian Ocean, Harry doesn’t find the promised excitement with local ladies. But in the supermarket he meets Esther Mwemba, a demure widow who works as a bookkeeper. The attraction is strong and mutual, but Harry gets worried when he finds out that Esther and Aldo have a history. They introduce him to Victor Skebelsky, rumored to be the meanest man in town. Skebelsky has a plan to convert his grand colonial home and residential compound into a rehab center – as a tax dodge. The scheme calls for Harry to head up the charity. He could live like a wealthy diplomat and it won’t cost him a shilling!

Harry has to come to terms with questions at the heart of his character: Is corruption a fact of life everywhere? Is all love transactional?

Desmond Boi, editorial writer for The Standard newspapers and Citizen TV in Nairobi has gone so far as to suggest that the book could be disruptive – in a positive way – among Kenyans. He writes: “Harry Harambee’s Kenyan Sundowner is a captivating, witty read that explores the sociopolitical climate in Kenya in an honest way that is both entertaining and thought-provoking. This is a clear and compelling outlook that realistically paints Kenya while exploring glaring issues that are a bane to the country. When Harry decides to stop being a bystander who lets other people decide his fate, it’s noteworthy. This can be equated to Kenyans finally deciding to take responsibility rather than just going with the flow, waiting for decisions that affect their lives to be made for them. And it can be done without selling one’s soul in the process and leave a legacy and a better country worthy of its name.” (Kenyan general elections are slated for August of 2022, and campaigning is already underway.)

BookLife Reviews remarked on the love-relationship-scheme plot, comparing it to Eric Jerome Dickey’s Thieves’ Paradise, adding: “Jones writes with clarity and precision, offering a convincing study of a man taking risks and exploring new relationships with an almost childlike view on the world he’s thrown into. In relatable fashion, Harry soon gets in over his head for the attention of a woman or the thrill of the deal. Esther sums up his character best: ‘Mister go-along. The fellow who’s happy to ride in the back and look out the window.’ Readers looking for engaging contemporary fiction with an emotionally available adult male lead – ‘Grand passion is fleeting, also blinding,’ Harry notes  – will quickly be pulled into Harry’s fast-paced adventure, a memorable (literal) vacation read.”

Jones recently returned to the United States from living in Kenya. He explains: “After repeated safari trips to East Africa, my wife and I took up residence in Kenya for two years. Our purpose was to support her work in wildlife conservation and child welfare. As Harry does, we lived most of that time on the South Coast, as well as several months in Nairobi. As for my daily life, I chatted up new friends, continued to write several books, and started this one. I wrote about what I saw and learned. I love Kenya, and I hold friends and colleagues there dear. Although we’d considered staying indefinitely, we returned to the US because things got “interesting.” This was pre-pandemic. But events soon became so much more interesting, not only in domestic politics but also because of the global crisis. Harry’s story has him staying there and deciding to take action largely because of the pandemic. I now view my life and world events with a more Kenyan mindset – pragmatic, amused, cautious. Among other lessons learned, I appreciate that gossip is news. Read the papers and the posts, certainly. But if you want to know what’s really going on – what people are worried about – take a ride a taxi or tuk-tuk and open your ears.”

Novelist Jones won six book awards in 2020, including Gold and Silver in the Mystery category of the New York City Big Book Awards, as well as Distinguished Favorite in Literary Fiction from the Independent Press Awards for Clifford’s Spiral. About that book, Don Sloan of Publishers Daily Reviews said: “Gerald Everett Jones … arguably is doing the best work of his career. We predict that he lacks only a mention in the The New York Review of Books or, better yet, Oprah, to become a nationwide best-selling author. Five-plus stars to Clifford’s Spiral, a true literary novel if ever there was one. We say in all seriousness that if you only read one novel this year, this should be it.”

Gerald Everett Jones is a freelance writer who lives in Santa Monica, California. He is a member of the Writers Guild of America, the Dramatists Guild, Women’s National Book Association, and Film Independent (FIND), as well as a board member of the Independent Writers of Southern California (IWOSC). He holds a Bachelor of Arts with Honors from the College of Letters, Wesleyan University, where he studied under novelists Peter Boynton (Stone Island), F.D. Reeve (The Red Machines), and Jerzy Kosinski (The Painted Bird, Being There).

Learn more at geraldeverettjones.com.

Harry Harambee’s Kenyan Sundowner is available for preorder now in trade paperback and ebook formats from booksellers worldwide, including Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple Books, Google Books, and Rakuten Kobo.

LaPuerta Books and Media is the small-press imprint of La Puerta Productions, Santa Monica, CA. The LaPuerta imprint and its logo, an open door, symbolize unlimited access to knowledge, opportunity, innovation, fascination, and delight. In its support for authors and thought leaders, the publisher’s mission is to help influential voices achieve worldwide platforms.

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