HAPPY SAD LAND (1994) - Reviews
'His travelogue offers a unique snapshot of South Africa when
apartheid was in its death throes ... an engaging read'
'the verbatim record speaks more eloquently than any commentary
by a visiting journalist ... his cameos are drawn with a wit
which leavens the depressing bigotry .... this travel book is
a frothy jaunt, a sort of neo-colonial road movie ... funny
in parts and a good read for anybody wanting to gain an insight
into a colourful society on a colourful continent'
'Happy Sad Land is an ambitious project: an attempt to combine
a classic travel book with an oral political history'
'Some whites refer to the approaching elections as 'The End'.
McCrum prefers to regard it as the end of a nightmare ... his
book is well worth reading'
(Gerald Kaufman in the MANCHESTER EVENING NEWS)
'Non-fiction book of the month ... the images you take away
from this book are not solely ones of violence, but also of
'well-crafted, amusing and admirably well-paced'
'Happy Sad Land is above all an honest book - grinding no axes,
over-dramatising no incidents, concealing no dreariness'
(Dervla Murphy in the TLS)
'this remarkable travel book ... succeeds poignantly in painting
a closely observed picture of a country in transition'
'McCrum succeeds in portraying the complex range of views and
personalities that lie behind the simplicity of the news stories.
His Africa is given a sharp political edge while retaining in
his affectionate portrait of Botswana a mysterious otherness'
'Happy Sad Land' was read in six parts on Radio Four's 'Book
at Bedtime' by Richard E. Grant.