Again narrated by a child but a total contrast to the Hoopoes.  Elaine Proctor is a South African but the book is set in Tottenham Court Road among Congolese refugees.

 The book opens with  the boy shooting doves with a ‘catty’- for his mother to eat when she comes.

“It had been five months since his mother had tricked him into leaving Bukavu with the promise that she would follow swiftly on.

Being away from her had felt like being burned in a fire…

Her name was Bijou. Flambeau thought it the perfect name for his mother because she was, indeed, a jewel.

He didn’t want to imagine the journey Bijou was now finally making from the forests of south-east Congo because he knew the pitfalls in her path were plentiful.”

The story is sad, tragic, beautiful, musical, brutal and beautifully written.

It’s on the long list for the Sunday Times Fiction Prize and well worth reading.

 Jenny Strikland