Louise Linton is an aspiring actress living in California, but the Scottish woman's recently published book about her gap year in Zambia in the late '90s is what's catching everyone's attention, the Guardian reports. In Congo's Shadow was published in April and excerpted in the Telegraph last week, documenting what Linton says was her "nightmare" after she got "caught up in the fringes of the Congolese War." But as BuzzFeed notes, critics are outraged at a story they say is filled with inaccuracies, stereotypes, and out-and-out lies. After first describing Africa as "rife with hidden danger"—including malaria, wild animals, and "random acts of violence"—she relays how Congolese rebels invaded her village. "I tried not to think what the rebels would do to the 'skinny white muzungu with long angel hair' if they found me," she writes, piling up what the Guardian calls "white savior in Africa" cliches, including talk about Zimba, a "smiling gap-toothed child with HIV whose greatest joy was to sit on my lap and drink from a bottle of Coca-Cola."
Online reaction has been fierce, especially from Zambians, with a #LintonLies hashtag and even a parody account on Twitter for that child who supposedly downed a Coke in her lap. "I did not have Coca Cola with that woman!" the bio under the parody's avatar reads. Adding to the pile-on: Gerard Zytkow, who says in a Facebook post that he owns a nearby fishing lodge and that there were no attacking rebels. "I would like to wring her neck for writing so much rubbish," he writes, per BuzzFeed, adding her book should be banned as a work of "mindboggling and nonsensical fiction." In a statement, Linton says, "I am genuinely dismayed and very sorry to see that I have offended people as this was the very opposite of my intent. I wrote this book with the hope of conveying my deep humility, respect, and appreciation for the people of Zambia and my sincere hope of making a positive impact." Meanwhile, her book isn't doing so hot on Amazon, where it's garnered nearly all one-star reviews. (Here's hoping Malia's gap year goes a little better.)