Book review: Then She was Born by Cristiano Gentili

  • Title and author:  Then she was Born by Cristiano Gentili
  • Translator:  Lori Hetherington
  • Publisher:  #HelpAfricanAlbinos
  • Publication date:  January 9, 2017
  • Pages:  309 pages
  • Genre:  Women’s fiction / Africa / cultural heritage


2017 Award Winning B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree and Awesome Indies Seal of Excellence for Outstanding Independent Literature.

Then She Was Born is more than a novel. It’s an international human rights awareness campaign supported by eleven Nobel Peace Prize laureates, the Dalai Lama and Pope Francis. Based on an inconceivable reality for many in the world today, Then She Was Born combines the drama and redemption of Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner with the spirituality of Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist.

A child is born and the joy of her parents turns to horror. The child is different, in a way that will bring bad luck to their superstitious community. The tradition should be for her to be abandoned, but Nkamba, the grandmother, is allowed to care for her.

Naming her Adimu, Nkamba raises her as her own. Adimu is constantly marginalized and shunned by the community, although her spirit remains undiminished and full of faith. But when she encounters the wealthy British mine owner Charles Fielding and his wife Sarah, it is the beginning of something which will test them all.

As Charles Fielding’s fortunes wane, he turns in desperation to a witch doctor whose suggestion leaves him horrified. But as events begin to spiral out of control he succumbs to the suggestions and a group of men are sent on a terrible mission. The final acts, of one man driven by greed and another by power, will have a devastating effect on many lives.

Cristiano Gentili’s glittering prose and vivid imagery will have you captivated from the first page.

Buy the book:      Barnes & Noble 

Meet the author:   Cristiano Gentili is an author and a civil servant, from the Italian region of Tuscany. He is married and has a child.

Since his graduation, where he obtained a BA in political science, a MAs in humanitarian assistance and a PhD in social science, Cristiano’s work has taken him to some of the most challenging locations around the world, often dealing with the after effects of war and natural disasters. He currently works in Ukraine, in the hazardous border area with Russia.

In 2011, he went on a personal fact-finding trip to Tanzania, to assess the living conditions of Africans with albinism. From that experience his goal became to raise awareness of the living conditions of African albinos through the #HelpAfricanAlbinos campaign. His novel, Then She Was Born, is the English translation of his book, originally written in Italian.

Cristiano has met with eleven Nobel Peace Laureates, the Dalai Lama and Pope Francis, who have each read a part of his novel and have leant their considerable support to the campaign.

Connect with the author:   Website   Facebook  Twitter  goodreads  Instagram 


Adimu is a zeru-zeru, a nobody.  What her clan doesn’t understand is that she is not evil or to be feared, she is simply an albino.  This fictional story takes place in Tanzania where albinism is common.  In the larger cities such as Dar es Salaam, albinos are not treated any differently.  However, in small villages where tribal religions and superstition are the norm, these children are treated as non-humans.

Although this book is a work of fiction, it brings to light the tragedy of being born an albino in Tanzania.  Through the use of several very different characters, he author shows how these children are being abused solely on what they are perceived to be.

The plot was well written and suspenseful, however it does contain some very graphic scenes.  Apart from a couple of awkward parts, the translation was very well done.

I have met several albino children in Canada over the past few years.  These children are very much loved by their parents.  I thought I would include a heartwarming photo of two young girls enjoying themselves at a wedding.

Then She Was Born is a compelling and thought-provoking narrative that draws our attention to the plight of albinos in Tanzania.