The Anglo-Ethiopian Society

Book Club - ONLINE - The Scent of Eucalyptus

John Dillon

Tuesday 18th January 2022

Online event starting at 19:00 GMT - Public event (all welcome to join).

Note - Register for the event on Eventbrite and you'll be emailed a Zoom link shortly before the event.


The Anglo-Ethiopian Society's book club will discuss The Scent of Eucalyptus by John Dillon.

John Dillon has penned and edited many academic books in his career as professor of the classics both in the University of California, Berkeley, and Trinity College, Dublin. This is his first work of fiction.

Set in Ethiopia in the early 1960s, this is both a roguish coming of age novel and a snapshot of a world on the cusp of change. Luke La Touche, a young Irishman of Huguenot heritage, is loath to settle down immediately after his graduation Oxford. Instead, he heads for Africa as a teacher to seek “new experiences” and a reprieve from the anxieties of Cold War Britain.

In Addis Ababa, Luke’s influential cousin James provides introductions to the ex-pat colonial social set. Elsewhere, he sows some proverbial wild oats in the company of the rambunctious, hard drinking Simon and plays Jazz in a local club. He finds sex with the beautiful Berhane and love (perhaps) with the very modern Caroline – after all, it is the 1960s! Along the way, in vivid detail, Luke explores Ethiopia. Alongside its beauty and wonder, however there is a dark side to this life he has yet to understand.

Luke is intrigued and drawn into the more dangerous world of the flamboyant Yohannis, his former fellow-student from Oxford. The Ethiopian aristocrat is part of an emerging new generation seeking to make changes across Africa. This encounter will change Luke’s life forever.

Nobel Prize Winner Seamus Heaney has said of The Scent of Eucalyptus that, the cast of characters – the denizens of the local scene – are wonderfully observed. Ethiopia … as landscape and history, is solidly ‘there’.

First published by The University Press of the South in 2006, this fully revised new edition features an insightful foreword by writer and literary editor Ronan Sheehan.


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Eventbrite Tickets - The Scent of Eucalyptus by John Dillon



The Scent of Eucalyptus cover The Scent of Eucalyptus by John Dillon.

Publisher : 451 Editions, November 2019

ISBN : 9781999907563 (paperback)
UK price £13:95

Kindle edition £5:45

First Published in News File Summer 2021

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