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  • Hardcover
  • 274 pages
  • The Book of Memory
  • Petina Gappah
  • English
  • 03 February 2017
  • 9780571296842

10 thoughts on “The Book of Memory

  1. says:

    3.5 Interesting premise for this well written book Memory is an albino black, convicted of the murder of the white man who raised her Given the death sentence she waits, incarcerated in the maximum security prison in Harare, Zimbabwe She is our narrator and this is her story.This is not a quick read, nor is it a fast moving story Rather it is the story of a young woman and how she got from there, a home with siblings and a mentally ill mother and a father she adored, to here, awaiting death.Life in the prison, the other women serving time with her, the constant political unrest in this country and how it affects the women in the prison, her life with her adopted father and lastly, his death A book that take patience, with a twist at the end, when all answers are finally revealed The ending is not definitive but I felt it did the book justice Also highlights the unreliability of memory and how our memories of childhood are incomplete or not correctly understood.A good if slower read.

  2. says:

    When we meet Memory, the narrator of this novel, she is in Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison in Zimbabwe, having been found guilty of murder From the start, we are told that she did not murder her adopted father, Lloyd Hendricks, and she is writing down her life story as part of her appeal against her death sentence In effect, Memory s life has two parts the first nine years of her childhood, spent at 1486 Mharapara Street and then the next nine years of her life, spent with Lloyd Hendricks the white man that she claims her parents sold her to As we read of the unfolding life of Memory, we move between past and present and gradually unravel what really happened to lead her to a life in prison.The author of this novel first became successful through a volume of short stories, An Elegy for Easterly I have to admit that short stories have never been a favourite of mine but I now regret that this author did not come to my attention earlier, as I loved this book From the first moment Memory begins speaking to the reader, I was completely enthralled We begin with her life in the busy and chaotic life on Mharapara Street, which Petina Gappah brings totally to life with an exuberant cast of characters Unlike most of the inhabitants of the street, Memory lives a slightly outcast life her parents seem to lack the endless relatives that visit most of her neighbours and she is set apart by the fact that she is an albino Of course, children s memories are often uncertain and there are things that they do not fully understand, but we see everything from Memory s perspective, while also being aware that there are undercurrents beneath the facts that are related to us At the age of nine, Memory is taken to live at the beautiful house, Summer Madness, with Lloyd Hendricks and has a new life, a privileged education and a different set of acquaintances From the start she is unwilling to confront the fact that she believes her parents sold her to Lloyd and, gradually, the two become close As Memory grows though, things change and her love for the artist Zenzo will have a devastating impact on future events This novel moves from Memory s current life in prison and backtracks from her childhood to early adulthood and across the world from Zimbabwe to Oxford and other countries as Memory grows and changes Gradually, as she writes, she confronts the childhood memories that she has always shied away from and uncovers the truth of what happened all those years ago and the events that led to her current situation This is not always an easy book to read much of it is sad, although there is also a lot of humour The book is peppered throughout with local dialect and, although I did not understand many of the words, the author cleverly intersperses them into the text to add flavour and a sense of place, while managing to keep the story moving and making it unnecessary for you to follow every single word Personally, I thought the whole story absolutely wonderful moving, evocative and poignant Memory is, essentially, an outsider in both the worlds she inhabited outside of prison and this status makes her doubly perceptive.Alongside the story of Memory, is her life inside the prison, set a few years after independence With an election looming, we are aware of events outside of the prison walls and of the reason why Memory s trial and sentence was so swift and decisive in a country all too aware of the world s eye on a country erupting in violence and where the death of three white farms in the month before Lloyd s death had than a little to do with the judgement against her This novel has a lot to offer, both as a personal read and as an ideal choice for book groups, with so much to discuss Undoubtedly, this is one of my favourite reads of the year and I recommend it highly Lastly, I received a copy of this book from the publisher, via NetGalley, for review.

  3. says:

    When everything goes to hell, the people who stand by you without flinching they are your family Jim ButcherPetina Gappah, a Zimbabwean author, has penned a deeply moving literary fiction, The Book of Memory that narrates the life story of a Zimbabwean convict on a death row charged for murdering her adoptive father, who was once sold to this man by her own parents and how she evolved into a different person while living with her new family and how easily she could forget her own family and how her happiness get destroyed because of her adoptive father This is her story, mostly written from her early memories in childhood to teenage hood to an adult to figure out what the lawyers missed in the prosecution of her adoptive father s murder.Synopsis The story you have asked me to tell begins not with the ignominious ugliness of Lloyd s death but on a long ago day in April when the sun seared my blistered face and I was nine years old and my father and mother sold me to a strange man I say my father and my mother, but really it was just my mother.Memory, the narrator of The Book of Memory, is an albino woman languishing in Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison in Harare, Zimbabwe, where she has been convicted of murder As part of her appeal her lawyer insists that she write down what happened as she remembers it The death penalty is a mandatory sentence for murder, and Memory is, both literally and metaphorically, writing for her life As her story unfolds, Memory reveals that she has been tried and convicted for the murder of Lloyd Hendricks, her adopted father.But who was Lloyd Hendricks Why does Memory feel no remorse for his death And did everything happen exactly as she remembers Moving between the townships of the poor and the suburbs of the rich, and between the past and the present, Memory weaves a compelling tale of love, obsession, the relentlessness of fate and the treachery of memory Memory is a convict serving her time, as she is on a death row, in Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison in Harare Her lawyer has asked her to pen her story starting from her childhood to the day when her adoptive father was found murdered in his home.Thus begins her tale which is a constant shift from the present time, her life as a convict and her life among others, the prison guards, the struggling and monotonous routine, her limited visitors and all, to the past when she was born in a family with two siblings and her parents in Mufakose and how one day her happiness turns upside down, when her father sells her to a white man named, Lloyd Hendricks, who was a professor and had a big house and how from then on her life drastically changed from being poor to being someone with a lot of means But what exactly happens between Lloyd and Memory that lets their growing bond of trust turn into ashes The story is beautifully written and I devoured each and every word of this skilled and talented author Her eloquent writing style with time lapses and emotions make it one of an evocative read and a delightful reading experience for all The narrative of Memory is first person POV which is free flowing and highly expressive that no doubt makes the pace a bit slow, but also lets the readers look deeply and strikingly into the scenes The story is engrossing enough to keep the readers glued and yearning for truth till the very last page.The author has captured the backdrop of Zimbabwean landscape vividly with in depth details about the country s shifting politics, culture, linguistics, society, in differences, the streets, the food, the fashion and everything and it certainly feels like a magic portal where the readers can travel to Zimbabwe through the author s words I was instantly transported to Harare, inside the prison cell, and on the dusty streets of this place And the author has flawlessly arrested the routine of a female prisoner, the tortures and the harassment they undergo from the prison guards.The characters in this story are highly well developed, especially the main character, Memory, whose back story throws light to her constantly evolving demeanor, and how she honestly pens her every mistake and every right decision I liked her character, not because of her honesty, but because of her laid back attitude even though she is on the death row Her painful and sad past engulfed me with its intensity and my heart cried out for her The character of Lloyd is also well structured and the way the author unfolds him is quite brilliant The rest of the characters are also quite interesting enough to remember them even after the end of the story.Overall, this is a compelling novel set in Zimbabwe which is not only thought provoking but also leaves the readers with a feeling of contempt after reading this book.Verdict A true gem for literary fiction lovers Courtesy Thanks to the author, Petina Gappah, for giving me an opportunity to read and review her novel

  4. says:

    A DNF, unfortunately.

  5. says:

    3 stars And this book started out so well.An albino woman imprisoned for the death of the man who allegedly bought her, at 9 years old The man who raised her and gave her every opportunity a good education and with many steps up in her social status Memory, is on death row the only woman on death row in Zimbabwe She is charged with writing the account of her life and the murder It tells the back story of not only her life, but that of her family Memory is an unreliable narrator For all intent and purpose I did enjoy this book It had a great premise with likeable and dis likable characters Many times this novel brought to life the pain and suffering of its haunted actors However this astute young author did the one thing that I am so terribly tired of a ploy that other authors have taken the liberty of doing, to the point of ruining novels for me I can accept a few foreign words scattered throughout a novel I much prefer that there is translation adjoining the foreign word or phrase, and that this practice is kept to a minimum Once this becomes habit and it is peppered generously throughout the novel, especially with no additional translation, then for me, it ruins the momentum of the novel If an author wants to write a novel in a foreign language, then do so, but stop ruining the English version with a foreign language that I do not understand and that is not being translated There is no other option for me than to take at least one full star off the rating that I give.

  6. says:

    Mnemosyne, known as Memory, writes to an unseen, unmet Western journalist from her cell in Zimbabwe s notorious Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison She has been sentenced to death for the murder of her childhood guardian, Lloyd a white man to whom her parents handed her off in a diner when Memory was a young girl Memory is an albino African, a condition that, even after she is treated for its physical pain, leaves deep scars in her psyche Memory s attempts to define her identity and reason through a family and community that abandoned her lead her beyond Africa and into a redemptive life in Europe But when she returns to Zimbabwe, disaster in the guise of a horrifying coincidence befalls her and she lands, unwittingly, on death row The premise is breathtaking, the execution less so The epistolary narrative means relying on the memory a compelling and well rendered theme of an unreliable narrator Much of the first half is devoted to describing daily life in this women s prison, which is worthy of its own novel, but it does crowd out Memory s memories of her childhood and it become difficult to know quite where to focus one s attention The second half of the novel, where Memory brings the reader into her life after she is sold to Lloyd, is rushed and so many of the events inexplicable and tangential Gappah s writing is gorgeous strong and clear with full color descriptions and a vivid sensuality that brings every setting, every character to life The narrative is well paced and the foreshadowing of deeper, darker secrets the essential mystery of Memory s relationship with Lloyd and her arrest and conviction propel the reader forward The plot is distracted and unsatisfying, but this is still a worthy read for its insights into current Zimbabwe and its wonderfully rendered female characters.

  7. says:

    Oggi ho pensato alla falena bianca Anch io, come lei, ho dovuto mutare forma e colore per mimetizzarmi nel mondo circostante Anch io, come lei, svolazzavo alla cieca, cambiavo colore, mi sforzavo di adattarmi, di sopravvivere Forse decidere di sopravvivere pu bastare E ricominciare a vivere, che sia qui dentro o fuori, consapevole della verit Forse come inizio pu bastare Ammetto di aver acquistato questo libro dopo aver letto la seguente dichiarazione Una magnifica scrittrice J.M COETZEE Premio Nobel per la Letteratura Per un quarto circa di lettura ammetto di essermi pentita S , Gappah scrive bene non benissimo, non male.S , il contesto tutto da scoprire Zimbabwe.S , la storia interessante molto.Inizialmente, tuttavia, ho trovato il racconto molto farraginoso e con due elementi, per me, irritanti l inserimento di alcune frasi, e o termini, in lingua shona senza traduzione alcuna un racconto che fa riferimenti a persone e o fatti che il lettore ancora non conosce da cui un forte stato confusionale.Questo per un quarto, circa di lettura.Poi si decolla e tutto cambia La storia che mi hai chiesto di raccontarti non comincia con la penosa mostruosit della morte di Lloyd Comincia il lontano giorno d agosto in cui io avevo nove anni, il sole mi scottava il viso pieno di bolle e mio padre e mia madre mi vendettero a un estraneo Con questo avvio, Memory riavvolge il filo della sua vita scrivendo ad una giornalista americana interessata al suo caso questa la sensazione che mi danno i quaderni Quando torno in cella a scrivere inizia la parte migliore della mia giornata Sheherazade raccontava storie per mantenere la testa attaccata al collo Io scrivo per restare in vita E sto anche mettendo ordine tra i fili che l hanno tenuta insieme, per vedere dove questo si collega a quello o s intreccia con quell altro, per vedere come formano l arazzo da cui mi allontaner per averne una visuale migliore.Tuttavia scriverti non semplice come immaginavo Credevo che una volta seduta al tavolo avrei raccontato una storia lineare con un normale inizio, un finale e una parte centrale Non avevo idea di quanto la mia realt attuale e i ricordi emersi a casaccio si sarebbero insinuati nel racconto Memory un africana albina, detenuta nel braccio della morte per aver ucciso Loyd, il bianco che l aveva comprata.Lo scenario quello dello Zimbabwe ex Rhodesia con le sue superstizioni, le sue tradizioni tribali e poi la corruzione e quell arte di arrangiarsi che va oltre la legalit comune ma talmente diffusa da diventare macchietta.Tratti molto comuni nel ex colonie africane, scaraventate a precipizio nello status indipendente senza alcun strumento valido a costruire una reale democrazia.La societ si fonda, dunque, su credenze che condizionano ogni scelta e in questo scenario nascere albini spesso una condanna che, a volte, si rivela mortale in sintesi la si considera una maledizione e ci ha portato a veri e propri massacri Memory, memoria Ed proprio il ricordo che prende parola Nella township in cui cresciuta zone piene dei detriti dell esistenza umana regna la povert come normale condizione Accettavamo la semplicit della nostra vita ignorando la possibilit di una vita pi ricca e dove ai bambini vengono dati nomi Joy Princess Pretty Progress Promise Providence Privilege Prudence Praise Promotion Prevarication Predestination che evocano speranze che comunque sopravvivono.Questa una storia che parla di paure quella di Memory succube degli sguardi inorriditi che l accompagnano da sempre quella di un paese che pi cerca di essere altro pi rotola gi e come Sisifo deve nuovamente compiere lo sforzo per disancorarsi dalle arcaiche credenze che molto troppo spesso sono state e sono veri e propri strumenti di morte,Ma se la storia di questa nazione mostra le sua atrocit in tutta evidenza, non si pu dire altrettanto per quella di Memory dove ci sono ancora curve che possono portare a qualcosa di inaspettato.Consigliato

  8. says:

    Thanks to Sterling Books in Brussels for the free review copy The Book Of Memory tells the story of a Zimbabwean woman called Memory whose parents sold her to a white man when she was nine She relates her tale in flashback as she sits in prison, having been convicted of the same white man s murder I won t spoil any of the story personally I m not interested in book reviews which discuss the plot in too much detail other than to say that we do finally get some answers to the main mysteries why did Memory s parents give her away, and how did the white man, Lloyd, really die But this is not a murder mystery or a thriller It s a story about identity and belonging, and how various characters, for various reasons, are marginalised by society Memory is an albino, meaning that rather than play out in the blistering heat of the sun all day she prefers to stay indoors and read books or retreat into her own imagination She becomes educated and has little time for the witchcraft and superstition so fervently believed in by many of her compatriots She s witty and thoughtful, generally a fun and stimulating character with whom you re happy to spend time Her story splits almost equally between childhood memories and present day descriptions of life in the women s prison where she s being held Both are described equally vividly, with telling details such as sounds and smells.But finally this is a surprisingly mature story about acceptance, both of yourself and of your circumstances, and about the sometimes futile search for meaning in life It s a very impressive novel and I expect to hear a lot about Petina Gappah in the future.

  9. says:

    The Book of Memory and I were at odds with each other for the first little while The language Petina Guppah uses is rich and beautiful, peppered with local dialect and at times challenging to follow, but ultimately worth the effort.The Book of Memory is exactly that not only of the person narrating the story, Memory herself, but also memory itself and the way it flows backwards to points in time without any particularly cohesive order The descriptive prose is haunting and gorgeous, I got a real feel for the streets upon which Memory lived, the shock of the culture change as she moved onto other things and a sharp knowledge of all the characters she met along the way or at least of her interpretation of them.It is a literary novel, the narrative tells a life story Memory has to be seen as an unreliable narrator because it is simply her own world view of those things that have happened to her It is entirely fascinating and at times very moving, with a sharp influx of ironic humour and a brilliantly placed sense of time that speaks to wider issues within its setting.I enjoyed it, admired it whilst not being completely in love with it and would definitely recommend it for fans of literary fiction with entirely wonderful yet not wasted language The Book of Memory is short and sharp a little gem to be savoured on a quiet afternoon Give it a go.

  10. says:

    Perhaps not a fair rating, since I didn t finish it, but I can t imagine suffering through to the end This story held such promise and I really wanted to like it, but had to abandon it after 45 pages The dull, lifeless prose had me nodding off at the end of every page It was a struggle to get as far as I did Life is much too short to waste it on this.

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The Book of Memorycharacters The Book of Memory, audiobook The Book of Memory, files book The Book of Memory, today The Book of Memory, The Book of Memory 68c31 The Story You Have Asked Me To Tell Begins Not With The Ignominious Ugliness Of Lloyd S Death But On A Long Ago Day In April When The Sun Seared My Blistered Face And I Was Nine Years Old And My Father And Mother Sold Me To A Strange Man I Say My Father And My Mother, But Really It Was Just My Mother Memory, The Narrator Of The Book Of Memory, Is An Albino Woman Languishing In Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison In Harare, Zimbabwe, Where She Has Been Convicted Of Murder As Part Of Her Appeal Her Lawyer Insists That She Write Down What Happened As She Remembers It The Death Penalty Is A Mandatory Sentence For Murder, And Memory Is, Both Literally And Metaphorically, Writing For Her Life As Her Story Unfolds, Memory Reveals That She Has Been Tried And Convicted For The Murder Of Lloyd Hendricks, Her Adopted Father But Who Was Lloyd Hendricks Why Does Memory Feel No Remorse For His Death And Did Everything Happen Exactly As She Remembers Moving Between The Townships Of The Poor And The Suburbs Of The Rich, And Between The Past And The Present, Memory Weaves A Compelling Tale Of Love, Obsession, The Relentlessness Of Fate And The Treachery Of Memory

About the Author: Petina Gappah

Petina Gappah is a Zimbabwean writer with law degrees from Cambridge, Graz University, and the University of Zimbabwe Her short fiction and essays have been published in eight countries She lives with her son Kush in Geneva, where she works as counsel in an international organisation that provides legal aid on international trade law to developing countries.