Story of the Week: "Scribbling the Cat: Travels with an African Soldier" by Alexandra Fuller



One of the points I am trying to make by selecting a "Story of the Week" is that great literature can be found in many places, even in everyday media accounts. As if to assist me in achieving this goal, there is the Lettre Ulysses Award for "The Art of Reportage," which, as the title suggests, honors reporting that rises to the level of literature.

The winner of this year's prize is the book Scribbling the Cat: Travels with an African Soldier by Alexandra Fuller. The book follows Fuller as she travels to Central Africa with a former soldier and mercenary (whom she only identified as "K"). As this soldier revisits his war-time experiences, Fuller weaves a narrative that goes beyond the destruction and devastation they witness to accounting for their shared and divergent experiences (Fuller is a white woman who grew up in Rhodesia; K is a black African who lived what he describes as a decent life until a series of tragedies overtook him and his land).

As a side note, the title comes from something Fuller's father once told her, which is that "Curiosity scribbled the cat," with "to scribble" being Afrikaans slang for "to kill."

While the complete book is only available in print, an online excerpt can be found here.