Cover image for Book Club kit : The garden of burning sand
Book Club kit : The garden of burning sand
Publication Information:
New York : Quercus, 2013.
Physical Description:
11 bks. (405 pages) ; 21 cm + 1 discussion guide
When a girl with Down syndrome is sexually assaulted in a Lusaka slum, human rights lawyer Zoe Fleming and Zambian police officer Joseph Zabuta conduct an investigation that reveals a link between the victim and a powerful local family.
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The New York Times bestselling author John Hart raved that "If you like stories of good people struggling to do right in the world's forgotten places, there is no one better suited than Corban Addison to take you on the ride of your life." In The Garden of Burning Sand , Addison, the bestselling author of A Walk Across the Sun , creates a powerful and poignant novel that takes the reader from the red light areas of Lusaka, Zambia, to the gilded chambers of the Washington, D.C. elite, to the splendor of Victoria Falls and Cape Town.

Zoe Fleming, an accomplished young human rights attorney, has made a life for herself in Zambia, far from her estranged father--an American business mogul with presidential aspirations--and from the devastating betrayals of her past.

When a young girl with Down syndrome is sexually assaulted in a Lusaka slum, Zoe joins Zambian police officer Joseph Kabuta in investigating the rape. Piecing together clues from the victim's past, they discover an unsettling connection between the girl--Kuyeya--and a powerful Zambian family who will stop at nothing to bury the truth.

As they are drawn deeper into the complex web of characters behind this appalling crime, Zoe and Joseph forge a bond of trust and friendship that slowly transforms into love. Opposed on all sides, they find themselves caught in a dangerous clash between the forces of justice and power. To successfully prosecute Kuyeya's attacker and build a future with Joseph, Zoe must risk her life and her heart--and confront the dark past she thought she had left behind.

From the Hardcover edition.

Reviews 4

Publisher's Weekly Review

Addison's follow-up to A Walk Across the Sun stars lawyer Zoe Fleming-an idealist at odds with her seemingly cutthroat father, Senator Jack Fleming, a presidential candidate-as she works on a child's rape case in Lusaka, Zambia, her adopted home. Having been assaulted herself as an adult, Zoe feels a particular connection to the Down syndrome-afflicted victim, Kuyeya Mizinga, a prostitute's daughter. Alongside taciturn policeman Joseph Kabuta, Zoe searches for witnesses in slum neighborhoods, eventually connecting the crime to a politically influential HIV-positive television producer. Zoe and Joseph are unwavering in their search for the truth, even as witnesses are murdered and evidence vanishes. Through their discoveries, Addison brings to light persistent myths about AIDS in Zambia: the families of the HIV-positive are considered cursed, AIDS drugs are avoided, and sex with virgins is prescribed as a panacea. By setting this story against the backdrop of Zambia's rocky presidential election, Addison ratchets up the tension and makes the already-palpable threat of violence against Zoe and her cohorts more real. Meanwhile, the developing romance between Joseph and Zoe comes off as surprisingly credible, despite the crowded storyline. Though certain plot points would have benefited from some restraint, the result is satisfying. Agent: Dan Raines, Creative Trust Inc. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Kirkus Review

In Zambia, Kuyeyaa teenage girl with Down syndromeis raped, and American human rights lawyer Zoe Fleming dedicates herself to finding the attacker and bringing him to justice.Zoe was sexually assaulted as a teenager herself, by the son of a crony of her father, Jack Fleming, now a senator seeking the nomination for president. She inherited a love of Africa from her late mother. Because Kuyeya's attacker is the son of a former cabinet minister, Zoe and her fellow attorneys must get past all manner of obstacles orchestrated by the corrupt system in order to pursue their case. The closer Zoe gets to the girl, whose trauma she eases by playing Johnny Cash songs, the more driven and fearless she becomes. Her investigation reveals complicated ties between the attacker's family and that of Kuyeya, whose mother was a prostitute who died of AIDS. Zoe also becomes close to the local police investigatorwho has his own secret to conceal. The novel is part mystery, part courtroom drama, part family saga and part political polemicin boldly opposing her father's plan to cut AIDS funding for Africa, Zoe stands to hurt his campaignwhile managing to form a cohesive whole. Addison is out of his element with the thug who threatens Zoea hulking stock character the author ultimately doesn't know what to do withbut that's the only false note.Addison's second novel (A Walk Across the Sun, 2013) is both an affecting tale of a tragically abused girl and a convincing plea for humanitarian support in Africa. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Booklist Review

As Zoe Fleming awaits her summons to address the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, she recalls the circumstances that brought her to this place, an experience that has put her at public odds with her estranged father, a presidential candidate. While working in Zambia as a lawyer for a nonprofit agency combating human rights abuses, Zoe accompanied a police officer to interview a girl found raped and wandering the streets. Zoe's compassion and emotional connection with the child, an orphan with Down syndrome named Kuyeya, incited an anger that had been simmering in her for years, and she joined forces with the cop to find the rapist. Medical, legal, and cultural roadblocks made arrest and prosecution difficult, but Zoe determined to help Kuyeya and do her best to push Zambia one step further into the twenty-first century. Whether she is as passionate about mending her relationship with her father is a different matter. Addison's human rights agenda tends to overwhelm his story, but in dealing bluntly with crucial issues such as rape, AIDS, superstition, and poverty, he effectively touches the consciousness of his readers.--Zvirin, Stephanie Copyright 2010 Booklist

Library Journal Review

Addison (A Walk Across the Sun) delivers another compelling novel exposing human rights violations. Instead of India, readers this time are sent to Africa, where child sexual assault runs rampant amid AIDs, corruption, and a lack of DNA labs. Zoe Fleming, daughter of a high-profile politician, is an American attorney working for a nonprofit legal organization based in Zambia. When Kuyeya, a disabled African child, is raped, investigators begin to unravel a scandalous history involving prominent business leaders, doctors, and Kuyeya's mother. Passion fuels Zoe and her colleagues as they fight legal injustices and dangerous adversaries in an attempt to bring the man responsible to justice. Kuyeya and her story are fiction, but Addison's novel connects readers to real-world injustices alive and well on the -African continent today. VERDICT A sense of urgency will keep readers engrossed, and, despite the tragedy depicted, they will also find comforting themes connected to love and family. Fans of Addison's first novel and readers who enjoy socially conscious fiction will want this. [100,000-copy first printing; ten-city tour.]-Andrea Brooks, Northern Kentucky Univ. Lib., Highland Heights (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Lusaka, Zambia August, 2011 The music was raucous, but it was always that way in African clubs. The beat of the drum--the backbone of village song--had been replaced in the cities by the throbbing insistence of electronic bass, amplified until everything around the speakers picked up the rhythm--people, beer bottles, even the walls. On Zoe's first trip to the continent--a brief jaunt to Nairobi when she was six years old--her mother told her that Africa is the keeper of humanity's pulse. It was a truth she remembered every time she stepped foot in a Zambian bar. The place was called Hot Tropic, the club de jour in a city constantly reinventing its nightlife. The decor was all fire and glitter, neon lights flashing red against the walls and dazzling disco balls turning everything to sparkle. The place was packed with bodies, most of them African twenty-somethings, bouncing to the beat. Zoe was seated at a table in a corner of the bar where the decibel level was slightly buffered. She was dressed in jeans and a Hard Rock London T-shirt, her wavy blonde hair pulled back in a clip. At the table with her were three African friends from work--two men and a woman. Most Saturdays Zoe hosted a barbecue, or braai, at her flat, and afterward those who had not satisfied their appetite for beer and conversation went clubbing. Tonight, the subject on everyone's minds was the September election, pitting Zambia's President, Rupiah Banda, against the aging warhorse Michael Sata, and the energetic upstart Hakainde Hichilema, or "H.H." "Banda is finished," Niza Moyo was saying, her dark eyes aglow with indignation. "As is his party. They've run the country for twenty years and what have they given us? Mobile hospitals that take doctors away from the real hospitals; police officers that have no vehicles to investigate a crime; roads that only the rich can drive on; and corruption at every level of government. It's a disgrace." Like Zoe, Niza was a young attorney at the Coalition of International Legal Advocates, or CILA, a London-based non-profit that combatted human rights abuses around the world. She was feistier and more outspoken than most Zambian women, but she was Shona, from Zimbabwe, and her father was an exiled diplomat known for challenging authority. "I sympathize with your position," said Joseph Kabuta, an officer with the Zambia Police Victim Support Unit. Solidly built with closecropped hair and wide perceptive eyes, he reminded Zoe of the young Nelson Mandela. "But Banda is still popular in the rural areas, and Michael Sata isn't well. Zambians don't want another president to die in office." "The press reports about Sata's health are overblown," Niza rejoined. "What I can't figure out," Zoe interjected, "is why you don't throw out the guys with one foot in the grave and elect the best candidate. Everybody loves H.H. He's a born leader and he has no political baggage. But everybody says he can't win. Where's the logic?" "It's the way people think," said Sergeant Zulu--who everyone called Sarge. Strategically brilliant and compulsively affable, he was the lead attorney at CILA and the mastermind behind the organization's campaign against child sexual assault. "In Africa, presidents are like village chiefs. People vote for the gray heads." "So what you're saying is that reformers don't stand a chance until the old guard dies?" Zoe asked. "No wonder progress is like pulling teeth here." Sarge smiled wryly. "Each generation has to wait its turn." He held up his empty bottle of Castle lager. "Anyone else need another beer, or am I the only one drinking?" "I'll take a Mosi," said Joseph, draining his bottle and pushing it to the center of the table. Suddenly, he frowned and reached into the pocket of his jeans. He pulled out his cell phone and glanced at the screen. "It's Mariam," he said, giving Sarge a quizzical look. Zoe perked up. Mariam Changala was the field-office director at CILA and the mother of six children. If she was calling Joseph in the middle of the night, it had to be serious. Zoe watched Joseph's face as he took the call. His broad eyebrows arched. "Is Dr. Chulu on call? Make sure he's there. I'm ten minutes away." He put the phone away and glanced around the table. "A girl was raped in Kanyama. They're taking her to the hospital now." "How old?" Niza asked. Joseph shrugged. "Mariam just said she's young." "Family?" Sarge inquired. "Not clear. They found her wandering the streets." Zoe spoke: "Who picked her up?" "Some people from SCA." "She's disabled?" Zoe asked. "SCA" stood for Special Child Advocates, a nonprofit that worked with children with intellectual disabilities. "Presumably," Joseph said, throwing on his jacket. "Sorry to break up the party." He gave them a wave and headed toward the door. Zoe decided on a whim to follow him. Child rape cases usually appeared on her desk in a weeks-old police file. She'd never learned of an incident so soon after it happened. She tossed an apology to Sarge and Niza and weaved her way through the crowd, catching up to Joseph. "Mind if I come with you?" she asked. "I've never seen the intake process." He looked annoyed. "Okay, but stay out of the way." Zoe followed him into the chilly August night. Thrusting her hands into the pockets of her jacket, she looked toward the south and saw Canopus hanging low over the horizon. The brightest southern stars were visible above the scrim of city lights. Joseph walked toward a rusty Toyota pickup jammed in between cars on the edge of the dirt lot. Only the driver's door was accessible. Zoe had to climb over the gearshift to reach the passenger seat. Joseph started the truck with a roar and pulled out onto the street. Since Hot Tropic sat on the border between Kalingalinga, one of Lusaka's poorer neighborhoods, and Kabulonga, its wealthiest, street traffic on a Saturday night was kaleidoscopic, a colorful blend of pedestrians, up-market SUVs, and blue taxi vans crammed with revelers. "How did the people at SCA find the girl?" Zoe asked as they left the club behind. He stared at the road without answering, and she wondered if he'd heard her. She observed him for a long moment in the shadows of the cab. She knew almost nothing about him, except that he had been a police officer for over a decade, that he loathed corruption, and that he had recently completed a law degree at the University of Zambia. She spoke his name to get his attention. "Joseph." He twitched and took a breath. "One of their community volunteers found her," he said. "A woman named Abigail. She saw blood on the girl's leg and called Joy Herald." Joy was the director of SCA. "Joy called Mariam at home." "It happened in Kanyama?" He nodded. "East of Los Angeles Road, not far from Chibolya." She shuddered. Kanyama lay to the southwest of Cairo Road--the city's commercial center. A patchwork of shanties and cinderblock dwellings, most without toilets or running water, it was a haven for poverty, alcoholism, larceny, and cholera outbreaks. In an election year, it was also a cauldron of political unrest. But at least Kanyama had a police post. Chibolya was such a cesspool of lawlessness that the police avoided it altogether. They left the well-lit neighborhoods of Kabulonga and headed west along the wide, divided highway of Los Angeles Boulevard. Skirting the edge of the Lusaka Golf Club, they took Nyerere Road through a tunnel of mature jacarandas whose dense branches slivered the light of the moon. "Were there any witnesses?" she asked. He sighed and shifted in his seat. "I have no idea. Are you always so full of questions?" She bristled and thought: If I were a man, would you be asking? She considered a number of barbed responses, but in the end she held her tongue. CILA needed her to build bridges with the police, not wreck them. Excerpted from The Garden of Burning Sand by Corban Addison All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.