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Category Archive for 'Tanzania'

The author of eight previous novels, many of which have been nominated for international prizes, Abdulrazak Gurnah, from Zanzibar, specializes in novels which reflect a sense of alienation and loss as a person living, first, under the British colonial rule of his country, then later living under Zanzibar’s revolutionary rule after a coup following independence, and finally living in Britain itself. His characters often reflect similar dislocations, growing up and living without the pride one expects for the place where they grew up or much sense of belonging elsewhere within the world order. Sometimes at a loss and uncertain what will happen next politically, they may be unsure of how to go about traversing the multitude of competing influences on their lives and on the people they love. In this novel Gurnah examines these feelings through the life of Salim, a young man whose early childhood is upended when his father inexplicably leaves his mother and the home Salim thought was happy, and moves elsewhere, while his mother begins to spend time with another man. Salim’s alienation becomes more complicated as time passes. Gradually, the contrast between the life Salim thought he was living and life as it has become emerges more clearly. His father, who used to be a clerk for the Water Authority finds work in a market stall or just sits in his room after the separation. When real life at home becomes far more complicated for Salim, he readily accepts his uncle Amir’s offer of a chance to attend school in London, the place he lives for the next seven years, one which is not home, though Zanzibar no longer is home, either. Straightforward, honest, and filled with observations about alienation and the need for belonging.

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In Dark Star Safari (2002), author Paul Theroux travels along Africa’s east coast from Egypt to South Africa, through Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, and other countries. Though he begins his trip full of hope, he discovers that life on Africa’s east coast, as seen here in 2002, is not what he remembered from his Peace Corps days. Then he had been a volunteer in Malawi and a teacher in Uganda, leaving the country just as Idi Amin came to power. Despite the political upheavals of the 1960′s, his memories of Africa during that time are good ones. In 2002, approaching his sixtieth birthday, he is determined to travel from Cairo to Cape Town, believing that the continent “contain[s] many untold tales and some hope and comedy and sweetness, too,” and that there is “more to Africa than misery and terror,” something he aims to discover as he “wander[s] the antique hinterland.”

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With Friendly Fire, A. B. Yehoshua, one of Israel’s most honored contemporary novelists, creates a magnificent novel filled with real, flawed characters who come alive from the first page. The alternating narratives of Daniela Ya’ari, who is visiting her brother-in-law in Tanzania, and her husband Amotz Ya’ari, who remains behind in Tel Aviv, reveal their relationships to each other, their family, their culture, and ultimately their country. Daniela has been protected by Ya’ari (as he is usually identified) for her entire marriage, but she has traveled to Tanzania alone this time. Her older sister Shuli died two years before, while Shuli and her husband Yirmiyahu (Jeremiah) were living in Tanzania, and Daniela, who has never really grieved, wants to come to terms with her death. Friendly Fire goes beyond Israeli and Jewish issues to touch on universal issues affecting all of humanity. Intensely realized, thoughtful, and stunning in its unique imagery and symbolism, this unusual novel deals with seemingly everyday issues, offering new insights into the human condition–life, love, and death–while fire serves throughout as a universal symbol of man’s humanity and his evolutionary differences from the rest of the animal world.

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Focusing on the entire Leakey family, from Louis and Mary Leakey, who were the paleontologist parents of Richard Leakey, also a paleontologist, to Richard’s paleontologist wife Maeve and their daughter Louise, the third generation of Leakey researchers into the origins of human life. Morell’s astounding level of research reveals the Leakeys individually, as a family, as dogged searchers for the truth about man’s origins–and as living, breathing humans.

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A finalist in 1994 for both the Booker Prize and the Whitbread Award, Paradise hides major themes and ideas within the seemingly simple story of Yusuf, a twelve-year-old boy in rural East Africa whose father sells him to a trader to settle a debt. East Africa is in turmoil–on the verge of World War I and the fighting which eventually develops between the Germans in Tanzania and the British in Kenya. Cities are growing, populations are moving, merchants are trading and selling, and colonialists from many countries are vying for influence. A novel which begins as a beautifully realized coming-of-age story develops into a story of high adventure, social and political realism, and eventually love.

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