‘Gripping’ new novel by Leicester author reveals the trials of African refugees

A Leicester-based author and former humanitarian aid-worker Andrew Goss is set to publish his new novel that follows the life of an aid worker in Eritrea and sheds light on the powerful stories of refugees fleeing the consequences of war in north-east Africa.

The story follows traumatised aid worker John Cousins arrives in north-east Africa he hopes to find a sense of personal peace among a gentle people rebuilding their lives following a bitter and prolonged war. In Eritrea he begins to forget his own emotional pain and lay to rest the ghosts of his previous mission in Pakistan. Will the work with fellow aid worker and nurse Hannah Johnson help heal the scars? And what is the secret of her own past?

Cold Coffee in Asmara is a story of personal loss, redemption and love set against a backdrop of humanitarian work in a remote corner of the world where African, Arab and European influences collide.

Andrew Goss is a former print journalist, overseas aid worker and humanitarian reporter. His work has led him to travel across Europe, Africa and South Asia. He lives in Leicester with his partner Claire, a nurse and former aid worker.

Andrew explains: “For several years I was an aid worker, based in South Asia and parts of Africa supporting communities less privileged than my own, where poverty and disease are commonplace. Though fiction, the writing is drawn from my own experience and real situations. Above all, though, I wanted to give those vulnerable communities I came to know and love a voice that is still seldom heard, even though many of them stand on the frontline of increasing climate change impacts.

It is particularly hard to see hungry, or diseased children when such situations can be so easily remedied. Therefore the writing is in a sense a therapy for me. Once you have seen how difficult some lives are and realise how desperate the situation can be in poorer countries, you realise whatever you may do as an aid worker it is never enough. It is like a drop in an ocean of need. And it never leaves you.

I feel very privileged to have been able to work alongside some of the poorest people in the world, whom I have found to be the most giving and welcoming. Writing about these communities is therefore a tribute to their resilience and to those who go to their assistance in difficult circumstances.”

Although it can be read as a standalone book, Cold Coffee in Asmara comes after Goss’ The Humanitarian as the second in a planned trilogy of novels focusing on humanitarian issues in the global south and on those communities in under-reported corners of the world.

Nageen Hyat, rights and social activist, filmmaker and director of the Nomad Gallery, Islamabad said: “Cold Coffee in Asmara is a compelling narrative; a gripping, well-researched account of an oppressive regime, reflecting the angst of the people and weariness of spirit in search of a better life. An informative novel reflecting the author’s lived experience and visual style of storytelling.”

Nic Street, Humanitarian and international aid worker said: “This fascinating story highlights the call to personal action and how tangible change can be achieved in the most isolated, insecure and often fearful communities in which humanitarian workers operate, sometimes at great personal risk – and gives a voice to the vulnerable and the disempowered, who so often go totally unrecognised and unheard.”

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