A selection of reviews appear below; for more reader's comments on Man in a mud hut go to amazon.co.uk.
"Ian Mathie deserves a wider audience. I can't understand why he hasn't been leapt upon by Radio 4 , Saga Magazine, the Sunday papers, the Daily Mail, Uncle Tom Cobley and all since the publication of Bride Price in January. Here is a fine new Voice who is completely his own man. His writing is spare, uncomplicated and unassuming. Now Ian Mathie has taken a dusty-dry civil servant and turned him into a hero. Desmond's first visit to Africa is the theme of the dramatic Man in a Mud Hut story. Set in the 1970's, the intrigue and suspense sort of reminded me of The Spy who came in from the Cold - and it all happened.
Desmond Parkis, from an office desk in London, is sent out to investigate some strange goings-on at a British-government sponsored project in Nigeria. Ian is instructed to provide a brief induction in his home village, to support Desmond's first visit to Africa. Desmond arrives, and his culture shock at Ian's rural lifestyle in Anehigouya provides a comic prelude to the tensions of the following story. After some typically African delays, Ian finds himself delivering his guest personally to Nigeria by Cessna (piloting a light aircraft is one of his many skills) and returns to rescue him soon after. Desmond's adventures hold our interest to the last page.
I thought this book was absolutely terrific, if anything, even better than Bride Price, which also deals with a short but dramatic period in Ian Mathie's career. The publishers, Mosaique Press, seem to have made a sensible decision to split the author's African memoirs into four shortish, very readable books, so there are two more in the pipeline to enjoy in the future. What I loved most about the first two books was the fine writing, which never clamours for attention, but quietly tells an authentic and powerful story. In the background is a real-life Boys' Own adventure hero (Ian himself) who has an enormous knowledge and respect of the local culture which is passed on to Desmond and to the reader. Bear Grylls, eat your heart out! "
Trish Simpson-Davis, in The Bookbag
"A very interesting read, giving a great deal of knowledge about a culture in this part of Africa without just overloading you with information. At the end you feel that you have yourself undertaken a little journey to another country. I would recommend this book to travellers, especially those who have volunteered in Africa."
Emily Roberts, in newbooksmag.com
"Seldom do all the elements come together so well to produce a story rich with suspense and drama floating in a sea of valuable lessons and insights. Ian Mathie's memoir, Man in a Mud Hut is such a book. Ian makes masterful use of his evolving relationship with Desmond Parkis to enlighten the reader about conditions and culture in Upper Volta, Mali and Nigeria in the 1970s so subtly we hardly know we're learning.
Desmond, a "government ferret from London," was sent by management in the home office to conduct on-site investigation of projects in West Africa to ensure tax payer funds were being well-used. Desmond's reluctance to experience the primitive living conditions was equaled by Ian's reluctance to be slowed down by a "tourist" - an attitude apparent on the first page. However, he takes advantage of opportunities at every turn to instill some of his own deep respect and passion for the wisdom and organic functionality of tribal customs in Desmond. As he explores everything from the well Mathie is helping the villagers deepen as a source of safe water to Mathie's make-shift shower, and people ranging from the village witch doctor to the next-door-lad who adopts him, Desmond gradually does begin to get the picture.
Some of these incidents are harrowing, especially to Desmond, as he uncovers conditions in a project in Nigeria that "appeared to have gone off the rails" and give him good reason to fear for his life. Almost immediately after his escape, he nearly loses his life to an infection so severe he can't be airlifted out. Other excitement includes factors like scorpion bites, snakes in showers, blown out airplane tires, nights in jail, and village festivals, complete with the witch-doctor. All of the incidents combine to dramatically convey a sense of the hearts and lives of the tribal people in Anehigouya and the surrounding region. Without saying as much, Mathie quietly leads readers to examine their own attitudes about cultural differences around the world.
While the combination of thrilling adventure and insight into human nature make this a must-read for anyone, students of memoir will find a bonus. The book is an outstanding example of a story with many layers and threads, seamlessly combined into an organic whole. The reader's education progresses in tandem with the relationship between the two men, each element enhancing the other."
Sharon Lippincott, in goodreads.com
"With his exceptional "visual" writing. Ian Mathie is able to transport his readers into his African mud hut, sharing meals, local brews and conversations.
Mathie describes his everyday life, both work and relaxation with Desmond Parkis, a "government ferret from London," who is on a business assignment in West Africa for the first time. We experience the primitive lifestyle through the eyes of Desmond's initial disgust, and gradually warm up to the subtle transformation that takes place within Desmond, after numerous dramatic incidents.
At one point I could hear and feel the swarm of locusts entering Mathie's village, destroying everything they could chomp on, including the roof on his mud hut.
Mathie's memoir will take you on a journey of life in Upper Volta, Mali and Nigeria, and make you think about how people adapt to cultural differences around the world.
I have now enjoyed two of Mathie's memoirs, and look forward to starting the next one on my list."
Sonia Marsh, Author of Freeways to Flipflops
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