On Leopard Rock: A Life of Adventure

Wilbur Smith. Zaffre, $28 (368p) ISBN 978-1-4998-6124-2
Writing in the direct, lean style of his fiction, Smith revisits the significant milestones of his writing life, during which he wrote nearly 40 novels that sold more than 130 million copies worldwide. The Zambian author begins with his coming of age, spent with his father, an engineer and big game hunter, in 1940s Northern Rhodesia. Through his father, he acquired the sportsman’s code that hunting was not “done for joy. Hunting was a way of life.” He worked on his father’s cattle farm and at various jobs until he attended Rhodes University in South Africa, graduating in 1954, then worked as an accountant. In 1964 he published his first novel, When the Lion Feeds, set in 1870 South Africa and involving a hunting accident between twin brothers. That was made into a Hollywood movie, as were many of his subsequent novels, such as The Dark of the Sun (1965), about mercenaries during the 1960s Congo crisis, and Shout at the Devil, about ivory poachers in 1915 Zanzibar (he describes a scripted fight on the set between actors Roger Moore and Lee Marvin that nearly turned real). Smith writes most prominently about his father, who died in 1985 from lung cancer and who carried a copy of When the Lion Feeds in his car to show off to his friends. Honest and intimate, Smith’s memoir tells of an extraordinary life of writing. (May)
Reviewed on: 05/21/2018
Release date: 05/01/2018
Paperback - 400 pages - 978-1-4998-6125-9
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