A tale of passion and hope in the face of death and bureaucracy

13 November 2019 - 10:59
'Father Michael's Lottery' by Johan Steyn.
'Father Michael's Lottery' by Johan Steyn.
Image: Pan Macmillan

“Father Michael’s Lottery is a great-spirited novel that tells its tale — about a committed doctor’s search for more 'happy endings' in all-too-unpromising circumstances — with heart and passion and hope.” — EDWIN CAMERON

“An important, must-read book”
— IAN McEWAN

The doctors and nurses at a small hospital in an African town are fighting an uphill battle against the Aids pandemic, made worse by the interventions of Holmes, the budget-conscious superintendent, and his bungling sidekick, Thunderbird.

The rebellious and profane Morgan thwarts every new rule in his quest to save his patients, most of whom are dying because they lack the resources to buy back their lives with over-priced drugs.

His efforts are valiantly supported by the enigmatic Oumar; the likable Kenyan, the beautiful Violet; and Rebecca, the battleaxe with a heart of gold.

Then there is Mary, with her passion for birds, holding Morgan’s heart in her frail hands; Naledi, the success story, who is brought back from the brink of death; and Rastodika, the untameable spirit.

When funds are needed for a kidney transplant, Morgan conspires with Father Michael; Dorcas, the shebeen queen; and Rachel, the whore, to make the rich Mr B organise a beerfest to pay for the operation. But then things don’t work out exactly as they had planned.

JOHAN STEYN was a medical doctor who worked and travelled extensively in Africa, preferring to live in the continents more remote corners. His interests included flying, painting, photography and mountaineering.