28

Stories of AIDS in Africa

From one of our most widely read, award-winning journalists – comes the powerful, unputdownable story of the very human cost of a global pandemic of staggering scope and scale. It is essential reading for our times.

In 28, Stephanie Nolen, the Globe and Mail’s Africa Bureau Chief, puts a human face to the crisis created by HIV-AIDS in Africa. She has achieved, in this amazing book, something extraordinary: she writes with a power, understanding and simplicity that makes us listen, makes us understand and care. Through riveting anecdotal stories – one for each of the million people living with HIV-AIDS in Africa – Nolen explores the effects of an epidemic that well exceeds the Black Plague in magnitude. It is a calamity that is unfolding just a 747-flight away, and one that will take the lives of these 28 million without the help of massive, immediate intervention on an unprecedented scale. 28 is a timely, transformative, thoroughly accessible book that shows us definitively why we continue to ignore the growth of HIV-AIDS in Africa only at our peril and at an intolerable moral cost.

28’s stories are much more than a record of the suffering and loss in 28 emblematic lives. Here we meet women and men fighting vigorously on the frontlines of disease: Tigist Haile Michael, a smart, shy 14-year-old Ethiopian orphan fending for herself and her baby brother on the slum streets of Addis Ababa; Alice Kadzanja, an HIV-positive nurse in Malawi, where one in six adults has the virus, and where the average adult’s life expectancy is 36; and Zackie Achmat, the hero of South Africa’s politically fragmented battle against HIV-AIDS.

28 also tells us how the virus works, spreads and, ultimately, kills. It explains the connection of HIV-AIDS to conflict, famine and the collapse of states; shows us how easily treatment works for those lucky enough to get it and details the struggles of those who fight to stay alive with little support. It makes vivid the strong, desperate people doing all they can, and maintaining courage, dignity and hope against insurmountable odds. It is – in its humanity, beauty and sorrow – a call to action for all who read it.


From the Hardcover edition.

Reviews

Major acclaim for Stephanie Nolen’s bestseller 28: Stories of AIDS in Africa
(a bestseller on the Maclean’s, the Globe and Mail and the Toronto Star lists)

“Stephanie Nolen looks behind the facts and stats to talk to 28 people across the continent affected by the virus. Through them, she builds up a larger narrative: of mass social stigma and ignorance; corrupt governments; exploitative drug companies; and a dispassionate and largely disinterested West. A welcome dispatch from an epic disaster we ignore at our peril.”
—Metro (London)

“In 28, Nolen marshals the reporting and storytelling skills that have made her, after UN special envoy Stephen Lewis, this country’s most compelling and vigorous voice for action on the grim parasite worming its way across Africa. In clear, insightful prose and vivid, though never lurid, detail, she allows her characters—one for every million people—to tell tales of despair and remarkable courage, willful ignorance and improbable triumph.”
—The Gazette
(Montreal)

“Nolen is a gifted listener and storyteller … Her collection … pays loving tribute to the people of Africa … Although history and science are woven lightly in and around the anecdotes and photographic portraits of the 28, this is a book about human life and human nature.”
The Globe and Mail

“Nolen puts a very human face on HIV/AIDS in Africa… . Nolen sees beneath the surfaces of these individuals, estranged and all but destroyed by governmental ineptitude and denial, and evinces their loves and hopes and family ties, their humanness, with which all others can identify.”
Booklist

“Never sentimental, Nolen lets the people and their experiences speak for themselves. The result is both an informative and a powerful read, which will help Western readers connect personally with a crisis that too often seems remote… . A unique, valuable contribution to the literature on this important topic.”
Library Journal

“A kind of continental survey of the impact of the AIDS pandemic on Africa, in stories that are frequently both tragically sad and just as often hugely inspiring.”
Calgary Herald

“28 searing portraits of Africans affected by the deadly virus… . With a seasoned journalist’s finesse, Nolen effortlessly weaves technical information—health statistics, disease data, NGO reports—into these deeply intimate glimpses of people often overlooked in the flood of contemporary media. Nolen’s book packs a real emotional wallop.”
Publishers Weekly

“In 28: Stories of AIDS in Africa, Nolen takes the reader on an emotional journey through the continent as she tells the stories of 28 people fighting HIV/AIDS … The stories are powerful, heartfelt and deeply human.”
Kingston Whig-Standard

“She is an evocative and empathetic writer.”
The Nation

“[A] powerful, yet restrained, book… . Nolen’s book is … a journalist’s honest attempt to tell a powerful story using human interest, anecdotes and poignant quotes in 28 profiles.”
Winnipeg Free Press

“Nolen puts a very human face on HIV/AIDS in Africa… . Nolen sees beneath the surfaces of these individuals, estranged and all but destroyed by governmental ineptitude and denial, and evinces their loves and hopes and family ties, their humanness, with which all others can identify.”
Booklist

“Nolen gives the epidemic a human face – more precisely, 28 human faces, one for each million Africans estimated to be infected with HIV. Ill healthcare workers and activists are portrayed along with ordinary Africans whose lives have been forever changed by AIDS. Nolen tells their stories simply and elegantly, blending their personal experiences with relevant background information about the epidemic. Never sentimental, she lets the people and their experiences speak for themselves. The result is both an informative and a powerful read, which will help Western readers connect personally with a crisis that too often seems remote.” –Library Journal

“28 searing portraits of Africans affected by the deadly virus. … With a seasoned journalist’s finesse, Nolen effortlessly weaves technical information – health statistics, disease data, NGO reports – into these deeply intimate glimpses of people often overlooked in the flood of contemporary media. Nolen’s book packs a real emotional wallop.”
Publishers Weekly

“Magnificent, inspiring, informative. Nolen opens the essential door to the brave, suffering, human reality of the African AIDS crisis.”
–John le Carré

“This is a formidable book of record … from the tiny virus, via 28 individual human stories, to an entire continent. The stories will tear you apart before putting you back together, fully-armed and ready to go to war with a virus more dangerous than any W.M.D.”
–Bono

“This book is magnificent. It’s probably the best book ever written about AIDS, certainly the best I’ve ever read. I wept when I finished, not just because it’s beautifully written, not just because the last chapter tears the heart out, not just because it’s a work of such force and feeling and power, not just because it’s so intensely and astonishingly human, not just because it covers the entire landscape of the virus, but because its impact could shape public opinion as never before.”
–Stephen Lewis, former UN Special Envoy HIV/AIDS in Africa

“A book of quiet yet overwhelming power, delivering a message of devastating moral authority. Moving, heartrending and uplifting, Stephanie Nolen’s book bears impeccable witness to the ‘unique and savage’ phenomenon of AIDS in Africa.”
–William Boyd, author of Restless and Brazzaville Beach

“If a war had killed 20 million soldiers, and left 28 million more dying of wounds, we’d call it the worst such tragedy since World War II. This is the scale of AIDS in Africa. Stephanie Nolen brings this story to life in a moving, deeply human way. Through these portraits – shrewdly chosen, varied, and sometimes startlingly unexpected–she artfully puts a series of human faces on the greatest health crisis of our time.”
–Adam Hochschild, author of King Leopold’s Ghost and Bury the Chains

“28 can soon be 48, 98 and more. And not just in Africa. And it does not have to be. Nolen shows that the struggle of one to live with dignity must be the struggle of all. Read. Weep. Rage. And above all else – like those people described in this brilliant book–find the courage to do.”
–Dr. James Orbinski, recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of Médecins Sans Frontières

AIDS in Africa is an enigma. The more it spreads, the less we see it. It is deadly yet deniable. It hides in full view of everyone. What this moving book does is to catch it by the tail and show us its face – it is our own.”
–Christopher Hope, author of My Mother’s Lovers

“Essential reading in the Age of AIDS, it is never earnest, and, whilst often painful, full of humane and painstakingly researched detail.”
–Emma Thompson


From the Hardcover edition.