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“Everything important here happens on the margins,” a rapper tells the author near the start of this snapshot of Mozambique, where the facts of daily life often contradict international organizations’ cheery reports of economic growth. We meet a sixth-grade dropout from the countryside who sells corn muffins in the capital, Maputo; a veteran of the Somali civil wars who became a smuggler after being smuggled himself; a motel owner from Pittsburgh who fought in Vietnam and worked for the Mugabe regime in Zimbabwe. The focus on personal perspectives rather than on official narratives yields a people’s history of the country. —The New Yorker

“Overflows with fantastically close reporting, cool and subtle judgments, and characters that absolutely leap to life. Rowan Moore Gerety gets next to all sorts of Mozambicans—street vendors, poor farmers, a people smuggler, the hapless leader of the political opposition—and then takes us deep into lives that illuminate the dark, pitiless dynamics of profound underdevelopment.”

—William Finnegan, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Barbarian Days and staff writer for the New Yorker

“Rowan Moore Gerety has given us a wry and beautifully written account of Mozambique today, a country that has managed the troubling feat of failing its people while showing signs of stunning economic growth. It’s about Mozambique—and it’s about the world we all live in.”

—Amy Wilentz, author of The Rainy Season