One-Man Fiction Factory

Alexander McCall Smith is fond of a fat — no, make that "traditionally built" — woman named Precious. Their relationship began in 1996 while Smith was on holiday in France. During that trip, he scribbled a few lines of a short story, which grew into a novel, then a series, chronicling the life of Precious Ramotswe, owner of the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency in Gaborone, Botswana. Four books into the series, McCall Smith is not stopping yet. "To say goodbye now would be like leaving in the middle of a conversation," the 54-year-old Zimbabwe-born Scot says. "Rather...

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