The book is a series of vignettes set around a main story. All the stories centre around women facing legal problems. The author, Unity Dow, is Botswana’s first female High Court judge and has made a name for herself dealing with human rights issues, particularly in relation to women. Botswana is a very young country still trying to come to terms with the modern world. That is where the main interest in the book lies. How to reconcile a modern British Justice system with old traditional ways and still achieve justice for women is what makes THE HEAVENS MAY FALL so interesting.
Unity Dow writes with an obvious love of Botswana but she is not blind to its flaws. You can’t help feeling that the stories Dow tells are probably based on her own personal experiences with the Botswanan legal system and that Naleda’s fight for justice for women and children mirror Dow’s own.
Up until now, the literary world has known Botswana through the delightful stories of Alexander McCall Smith and the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency. Comparisons between the two authors are inevitable. Both have chosen a similar structure in their books. Both love the country. However, McCall Smith’s Botswana is idyllic and Dow’s acknowledges that there are problems to be overcome. The authors make an interesting contrast and perhaps the truth of Botswana lies somewhere between the two. With Dow’s emergence I hope that more Botswanans are encouraged to write about their country and give the rest of the world a clearer picture.