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Reading ‘Fallout’ on Banana Island

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Banana Island

The book: Fallout, Sadie Jones

The place: Banana Island, Sierra Leone.


Having ten days in Sierra Leone punctuated by the Easter long weekend may not have been the best thing from the perspective of getting work done, but has worked out brilliantly in terms of allowing me a cheeky holiday (third time this month! I’ve got this down to a fine art). I am just back from four nights on Banana Island, off the southern tip of the Freetown peninsula, where I slept in a bamboo hut on the beach and went diving and swimming and got sunburnt and wandered through villages looking for old iron lamp-posts leftover from when the islands were controlled by slavers (which does, admittedly, cast a pall over the island’s idyllic nature). I had intended to get a lot of writing done but – as was the case on Chole Island in 2011 – staying somewhere with very limited electricity made this more of a challenge. I did, at least, do a lot of thinking about writing, and also a lot of hammock-based reading.

Other reads while on Banana Island included Nabokov’s Lolita (and now I see what all the fuss is about re. Nabokov), Helen Oyeyemi’s Boy, Snow, Bird (which I loved), and Sadie Jones’s Fallout, which I burned through in less than a day because I couldn’t put it down. I’ve loved Sadie Jones’s writing since The Outcast, and The Uninvited Guests, which I read at the end of 2014, was one of my top books read that year, but this is possibly even better: the themes of love and friendship and rescue and escape struck a chord in me that’s still vibrating. Beautiful stuff.

Boats in Kent, where one takes the boat for Banana Island.


Looking back to the mainland. If God say yes...
If God Say Yes, Who Can Say No?

Zion Church
Zion Church. The island is a former slave trading post, and there are a number of reminders from that era – the guidelines for slave boats that we saw while diving; the old metal lamp-posts dotting the town – which gives everything a slightly haunted air.


Written by Jess

March 28, 2016 at 10:35 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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