On the cover of this book it is written that this book is a novel. Reading the book I travelled from novel, to autobiography, to guide, to informationcenter. It is a mixture written out of love for the people of Eritrea.
The story centers around the journey of Wim (!) to Eritrea. He is in search of his father Theo who travelled to the very same country and he never came back. He wanted to do research for a book on the civil war. He never send a message from his destination to his wife and children.
Wim has made contact in advance with Haile (who speaks Dutch for he has worked with Dutch people in Sudan) who will guide him through Eritrea and will help him to make contact with people who fought in the civil war. Haile uses his network to do research. People are very willing to come forward with information.
Within the story we read about the relationship between Wim and his father Theo. His memories, his son and father moments. The love of his father (teacher of history and geography) for Africa and his desire to write a study on Eritrea.
The writer uses this journey to share with the reader a lot of information. Talks with people are used to instill into the readers all aspects of Eritrean life. At times this is a burden of information.
This book is not the most literary of books (to put it mildly). But this book probably does not aim at that pinnacle. It wants to show Eritrea and its beauty and its beautiful people. We travel to Asmara and Massawa and Keren and Dekamhare.
The title means ‘The coffee ritual’ refering to the elaborate ritual of making coffee, that Wim has often witnessed. Then he used a cup of good coffee.
Wim Drost – Het Koffieritueel. Een roman over het leven in Eritrea – 2003