The Alms Race

Cover of book, The Alms Race, with cartoon woman tangled up in mosquito net

How bad are you prepared to be in the name of doing good?

Idealist and serial intern, Clara McKenzie, is hell-bent on saving the world. But with her funds and her parents’ sympathy running low, her latest voluntary stint, at the offices of the charity, Buzz Off Malaria, is likely to be her last. So when her boss invites her to spend two weeks in Tanzania, Clara knows she has to prove herself.

But Clara quickly discovers that development work in-country isn’t as morally straightforward as she had anticipated. A link between Buzz Off Malaria and a multinational pharmaceutical company leads Clara to uncover disturbing truths about how the charity operates.

And when a three-year-old girl is left dying of malaria in a provincial clinic, Clara begins to question the whole purpose of her, and our, role in the developing world.

The Alms Race is a coming-of-age story about an idealistic young woman who is trying to find her place in the professional world. It taps into a generational yearning for meaning in life beyond working simply to ‘buy stuff’, and is a counterpunch to traditional ‘white saviour’ narratives, demonstrating how intractable and hypocritical Western involvement in the developing world has become.

Typeset (the Laura Jenkins trilogy)