Kevin Rushby

Author, Journalist & Traveller

Eating the Flowers of Paradise
A Journey Through the Drug Fields of Ethiopia and Yemen

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Paperback
Robinson
1 84119 679 7
Travel / Biography / Endurance
Amazon.co.uk

Drawn back to the Yemen by idyllic memories of ancient cities, spectacular mountains and most of all, the dreamy afternoons spent chewing the stimulant leaf of the qat tree, Kevin Rushby set out to travel the old trade route from the highlands of Ethiopia to Yemen. The journey is at times dangerous, often comic; and by accepting the invitation to take qat at every opportunity, the author encounters a wonderful array of characters - criminals, Islamic scholars, an exorcist and the mysterious Cedric, the travelling companion from hell who offers to help Rushby find a dhow across the Red Sea.

This is the story of a journey, but it also unveils the rich and varied culture surrounding the drug, qat. Legal in the UK but banned in the US, experts variously claim it to be as mild as tea or as addictive as cocaine; in the Yemen it is central to the life of the country, and Rushby explores as he goes our attitudes towards substance abuse and addiction.

Eating the Flowers of Paradise: Reviews

'Rushby's meandering pursuit of the drug qat has resulted in a travel classic: an unlikely mix of Chatwin, Waugh and Leary whose pages throng with quirky characters.'
Independent [number 3 in their top 50 books of 1999]