A native of Spain, Javier Calle is fluent in English and speaks some Swahili. His novel Ndura: hijo de la selva was originally written in Spanish, published in Spain, and has won an award for young adult literature in Spain. I read the English version, Ndura: Son of the Forest, a survival thriller that will keep you turning the pages.
The protagonist, also named Javier, is traveling home from an adventure trip in Africa with his friends, Alex, and Juan, when the plane is shot down by guerillas. Javier is (presumably) the lone survivor of the crash, but finds himself stranded in the middle of the jungle with inadequate resources. He must use his brains, his instincts, and his few resources to survive.
Told in first person journal-style, Ndura gives a detailed account of Javier’s day-to day actions, which includes finding food, water and shelter, protecting himself from wild animals and insects, and trying to find his way back to civilization. It also includes-and this is one of my favorite parts-the range of emotions that Javier goes through: grief for the loss of his friends, homesickness, anger, survival guilt, pride at developing new survival skills, and gratitude and friendship towards the friendly tribe of Pymies who briefly host him. The plot is exciting and thrilling enough to keep you turning the pages, and Javier is a character you really start to care about.
Another one of my favorite parts was the fact that the author clearly put a lot of time and effort into doing research for this book. The reader will get to learn about various flora and fauna native to the African jungle, the culture and society of the Pygmies, and to a lesser extend, the state of political affairs in various African counties. Senor Calle even includes a list of tips for surviving in the wild. I thought that was cool. The ending is completely unexpected and will leave you with a haunting mental image.
One caveat: The English translation is imperfect and awkward in places but is understandable. Please don’t let that keep you from enjoying this treat of a novel. Thank you, Senor Calle, for your contribution to the literary world.
Here is the Spanish version: http://www.amazon.com/Ndura-Spanish-Javier-Salazar-Calle-ebook/dp/B00LPINOUY/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8