Christopher Hope is fascinated by things he doesn’t understand. Like the man featured in his latest work, The Garden of Bad Dreams, who collects small people. Or like the complexities of the tribal wars in the former Yugoslavia. And like the unfathomable spectacle — which he witnessed personally — of former Liberian dictator Charles Taylor leaving office to go into exile through streets lined with people and guns, while a choir, dressed in white, sang the theme song from An Officer and a Gentleman. When we met at the buzzing Vineyard Hotel, we shared a laugh at how many important people we spotted. “I could swear I’ve just seen Stephen Hawking in the restaurant,” I spluttered. “Yes, it’s definitely him. He’s here on his mission to find an African Einstein,” he said, equally thrilled. “And there’s Alex Boraine,” I said, as we spotted the former Truth and Reconciliation Commission vice-chair chatting to someone, probably about his latest book.