In Adek, a tiny village in the sprawling desert of Southern Sudan, a community lives on a knife-edge of starvation and war, at the mercy of the bombs that fall from the sky like rain.  When three western aidworkers, including medical student Maria, are stranded here - a place where poets carry Kalashnikovs and rebel commanders wear pink dressing gowns – their presence brings hope and danger in equal measure.

Discussion Questions

Please note that some of these questions will act as spoilers for the book.

1.      the prologue states that while no-one knew of or memorialised the massacre in Adek in 1999 the events changed the world.  In what ways can this be regarded as being true?

2.      why does Maria choose to go to Sudan?  Is there any way of her realising the enormity of what is ahead?

3.      is ‘saving even twenty lives’ a victory as Sean claims?

4.      is Billy’s instruction to Maria not to become emotionally attached to the villagers of Adek a realistic one?

5.      does Maria ever truly understand what it is to dance like the Dinka?

6.      do you have sympathy with the Chief’s rejection of the Western values and standards espoused by Maria?

7.      do the aid workers help the villagers during their time in Adek or is Maria correct in her belief that the village was targeted because of their presence?

8.      how would you describe the novel’s ending?  Is it a happy ending?  Can there be a happy ending for Maria and Michael?

You can download this book activity.

You can use HMD resources to find out more about the ongoing atrocities in Darfur