The Scent of Eucalyptus by John Dillon
ISBN 978-1-9999075-6-3/220 pp/€15.95
Wonderfully observed. Ethiopia … as landscape and history, is solidly ‘there’. – Seamus Heaney
An outstanding work. – Ronan Sheehan
A gem of a book … thematically reminiscent of Waugh’s “Brideshead Revisited”– The Gloss
Lingers after the last page is turned – Pynck Magazine
Set in Ethiopia in the early 1960s, this is both a roguish coming of age novel and a snapshot of a world on the cusp of change. Luke La Touche, a young Irishman of Huguenot heritage, is loath to settle down immediately after his graduation Oxford. Instead, he heads for Africa as a teacher to seek “new experiences” and a reprieve from the anxieties of Cold War Britain.
John Dillon has penned and edited many academic books in his career as professor of the classics both in the University of California, Berkeley, and Trinity College, Dublin. This is his first work of fiction.
In Addis Ababa, Luke’s influential cousin James provides introductions to the ex-pat colonial social set. Elsewhere, he sows some proverbial wild oats in the company of the rambunctious, hard drinking Simon and plays Jazz in a local club. He finds sex with the beautiful Berhane and love (perhaps) with the very modern Caroline – after all, it is the 1960s! Along the way, in vivid detail, Luke explores Ethiopia. Alongside its beauty and wonder, however there is a dark side to this life he has yet to understand.
Luke is intrigued and drawn into the more dangerous world of the flamboyant Yohannis, his former fellow-student from Oxford. The Ethiopian aristocrat is part of an emerging new generation seeking to make changes across Africa. This encounter will change Luke’s life forever.
Nobel Prize Winner Seamus Heaney has said of The Scent of Eucalyptus that, “the cast of characters – the denizens of the local scene – are wonderfully observed. Ethiopia … as landscape and history, is solidly ‘there’. This fully revised new edition features an insightful foreword by writer and literary editor Ronan Sheehan.