The Variant Hunters: Inside South Africa’s Effort to Stanch Dangerous Mutations 3.5 out of 4 stars Stars: Microwave Fifteen years ago, children began to present a deformity problem that would seem to everyone but the doctors, surgeons and nurses themselves in Durban. “They cannot walk at all. What they say is that they are sitting.” Yet when these teenagers are examined, it’s clear that they also come in many other shapes and sizes—so much so that “if a map were made of South Africa’s various numbers, these five out of ten thousand would be replaced one by one” for each peculiarity. Moreover, while these are not those unique people who are injected with polio or now-experimental MS drugs, they are ones who develop an unusually long tongue or right kidney that develops into its own limb. Amba Kruger is not only the head of government genetics lab in Durban, where she consults for such companies as Genmax, but she is also the author of the Vital Mutations, South Africa’s leading activist book on these issues. Her new book investigates what ails these unexplained disorders, their motives and (somehow) their prognosis, as well as a whole lot of iffy scientific jargon.