Isaac Muthethe, a young medical student from South Africa, witnesses the brutal murder of a friend by the South African Defense Force. Fearing for his own life under the apartheid regime of the mid-1970s, he flees his homeland, leaving behind his family and his dreams of a career.
Dumped from a hearse into a dusty field just inside the border of Botswanna, Isaac awakens to find a white dog sitting next to him. The dog becomes his faithful companion, following him into the city of Gabarone, to the home of a resistance fighter, and ultimately to the house of an American woman who hires him to be her gardener. But Isaac has no papers, no right to be in the country. Apartheid does not exist in Botswanna, but it’s a hostile land of unrelenting heat, choking dust, fences that keep herds of animals from water, government officials intoxicated with power.
Man’s capacity to inflict pain on his fellow human beings looms over the novel, as do the vistas of Africa and the devastation wrought on the people and the land. The white dog that fell from the sky is the counterbalance. Her love for Isaac is without condition. No matter what hardships he is forced to endure, her commitment never wavers.
Alice Mendelssohn, the woman who befriends and ultimately saves Isaac, is a symbol of what is good in the world, as is the dog who will not abandon the young man she has chosen as master.
This is a book that explores the extremes of cruelty, but also of loyalty and faithfulness. It paints an extraordinary picture of a land torn to pieces by apartheid, but a land where love and faith can ultimately triumph.
White Dog Fell from the Sky is a fabulous read.