Physician Richard Berringer, his wife, Ann, and their thirteen-year-old son, Torquil, have abandoned their home in Nova Scotia and moved to Sierra Leone, despite warnings that the West African country is in a civil war. Two months on, things are not going well. Tensions are rising between Richard and his boss; Torquil—who hates Sierra Leone almost as much as he hates his father—has launched a hunger strike; and Ann is bedridden with illnesses that Richard believes are all in her head. While the Berringers battle with themselves, each other and the worlds they inhabit, the narrative repeatedly returns to their past, shedding light on what brought them together, what keeps them together, why they have come to Africa, and why they might not be able to go home again.
“A remarkable debut. Catherine Cooper writes with the insight and humanity and wit of a seasoned storyteller, making us root for her characters even as they pave the way to hell with their good intentions, and showing us in their follies a mirror of our own.” — Nino Ricci
“A thrilling and soulful journey … Catherine Cooper springs to literary life bravely, with a huge novel, sure to become a classic.” — Josip Novakovich
“An unflinching portrait of a family … White Elephant is not for the faint-hearted. It’s a compulsively readable work of art.” — Michael Redhill