Why do we tell stories? To hold on to what has been loved and lost, to create new myths, to explain and teach in ways that seep into memory.
Shakiso Collard leads the evacuation from Benghazi as jihadis overwhelm the refugee camp where she works. On arrival in Paris, she is betrayed by her boss, Oktar Samboa, and watches in despair as those she illegally helped escape are deported back to the warzones of Libya.
Elsewhere, Farinata Uberti – strongman CEO of Rosneft, the world’s largest energy company – arrives in London after triggering a violent insurrection in Tanzania to destroy a potential rival in the oil market. In the Sahara, an air convoy on its way to deliver billions of dollars of drugs and weapons to Ansar Dine jihadis crashes and is lost.
A year later, having spent months in hiding, Shakiso travels to West Africa. She is there to lead the relief effort that are hoping to stop the 200 million refugees fleeing war and environmental collapse heading for a fortified and fragmented Europe.
As the myths of these millions seeking new lives across the Mediterranean intrude into reality, Shakiso is drawn into the brutal clandestine fight against Rosneft’s domination of European energy supplies being conducted by the mysterious Simon Adaro. And, deep within the disorienting Harmattan storms of the desert, a group of jihadis have gone in search of the crashed convoy of planes - and a terror that could overwhelm them all.
A strange craft falls from the stars and crashes into the jungle near an isolated West African community. Inside, the locals discover the broken body of a man unlike any they have seen before – a man who is perhaps something more than human.
His name is Samara and he speaks with terror of a place called Tartarus – an orbiting prison where hope doesn’t exist.
As Samara begins to heal, he also transforms the lives his rescuers. But in so doing, he attracts the attention of a warlord whose gunmen now threaten the very existence of the villagers themselves – and the one, slim chance Samara has of finding his way home.
And all the while, in the darkness above, waits the simmering fury at the heart of Tartarus . . .
Born in Cape Town in 1974, Gavin Chait emigrated to the UK nearly ten years ago. He has degrees in Microbiology & Biochemistry, and Electrical Engineering. He is an economic development strategist and data scientist, and has travelled extensively in Africa, Latin America, Europe and Asia and is now based in Oxford. His first novel, Lament for the Fallen, was critically acclaimed (Eric Brown in the Guardian called it ‘a compulsively readable, life affirming tale’). Our Memory Like Dust is his second.