At the Edge of the Desert by Basil Lawrence

*Disclaimer: I was kindly gifted an electronic copy of this book by Penguin Random House SA in exchange for an honest review.

At the Edge of the Desert by Basil Lawrence

Rating: 4 out of 5.

At the Edge of the Desert is a different kind of historical fiction for me, I’m used to reading about Germany, but this story takes place in Lüderitz, Namibia. Living in South Africa I’ve only heard stories and have seen photos of Lüderitz, but after reading this book I see Lüderitz and the surrounding areas in a new light.

I found it a bit difficult to review this book, even though I love historical fiction, this was somewhat different for me. As the title suggests, the setting is dry and barren, but the characters and the history of the area are rich and interesting. This is a quick read and even though there aren’t any chapters, the story has a steady pace. The book is divided into 3 parts: Lüderitz, Kolmanskop and Elizabeth Bay.

I enjoyed the author’s descriptions of the landscape and the German that’s included in the dialogue. The storyline is good and readers will meet different characters who play an integral part in the main character, Henry’s life. The story contains mature content, but other than that this a great read for anyone who is interested in the history of Lüderitz and who wants to broaden their knowledge of historical fiction. This book motivated me to find out more about Lüderitz and I hope to visit some of the locations mentioned in the book, including Shark Island, in the future.

  • PUBLISHED: Ebook December 2020, Paperback January 2021
  • FORMAT: Ebook
  • GENRE: Historical Fiction


Basil Lawrence is the author of the novels Henry First and At the Edge of the Desert, and has co-edited two story collections for The Mechanics’ Institute Review. Henry First won the Red City Review grand prize, and his play Modern Eating Habits won the Amstel Playwright of the Year Award. He lives in London.

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