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China in Africa: The Real Story

A Title for My New Book?

Deborah Brautigam

OK, here is where I really need some help from readers. I am down to the wire on a title for my new book on Chinese agricultural investment (or not) in Africa. I had what I thought was a great title, Feeding Frenzy, which would play off of the general perception that the Chinese are leading the land grab in Africa, to grow food to ship back to China. (There is little evidence of any grand strategy to do this, let alone of Chinese farms in Africa growing food for China -- at least for now). Then, a few months ago, someone else published a book with that title. It's about the global food crisis and not about China and Africa, but my publisher (Oxford again), emailed me on Friday: "Ok - we're at the finish line for titles. We need one asap (for the catalog). Feeding Frenzy is taken and doesn't work." They proposed The African Rice Bowl: China, [Global] Food Security, and the Agricultural Revolution in Africa [or African Agricultural Revolution].
Hmmmm ... this doesn't work for me. It's too much of an echo of other writers who have argued the thesis I am going to dispute, i.e. that China does want to make Africa into its rice bowl.
Here are a few other thoughts:
1. Green Dreams: Myths and Realities of China's Agricultural Engagement in Africa
2. Mandarin Harvest: Fact and Fiction of Chinese "Land Grabs" in Africa
3. No Easy Harvest: Chinese Farms in Africa
4. Will Africa Feed China? Investigating land grabs and food security ...
5. The Dragon's Harvest: Chinese Agribusiness in Africa
Feedback? Other ideas?

Update, October 10: Oxford has decided to go with Will Africa Feed China? -- no subtitle, but the cover will have a blurb or other written material that makes the point about the myths and realities. They liked the link with Lester Brown's famous 1995 book: "Who Will Feed China?" and the simplicity of the title which, they said, "says it all."  So there we are. If anyone thinks this is really a problem title, please post! I still shudder to recall the original title selected by my last editor for The Dragon's Gift. They wanted to call it Rogue Donor? The book will be published at some point next year, probably in the summer.