29 November 2010

Africa Reads

A year or two ago my grandmother gave me her copy of this book:

Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust

I avoided reading it, first because it was about the Rwandan Holocaust, and then I avoided it because I was pregnant and having crazy dreams, and it was about the Rwandan Holocaust. But I recently joined a new book group, and the theme for January is Africa. This book group picks a theme and has a list of reads, rather than all sticking to the same book. Then we all report on our reads. I finally picked up this book, and it was great.

For me it was similar to The Hiding Place, by Corrie Ten Boom, because the narrator chose to have a good attitude and to focus on forgiveness despite the horrors around her. The book still tells many very troubling details, but her attitude helped me not be overwrought with grief while reading.

This turned out to be a good season for me to read about Africa, because every time I do, I feel so filled with gratitude for what seems extravagant material wealth, as well as my country. Here are other books on the list for January, I would love to hear thoughts about any of these and report to the group.

Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad (Congo)   I read this in college. The writing is dense, and it's kind of a downer because it talks so much about imperialism and greedy white people, but once you get past the dense writing, it is an incredible story. I sold my $1 college copy at  a yard sale recently, and when I got to book group, one of the ladies had bought it. It still had my notes all over it, which I had forgotten when I sold it. I was glad it went to a good home. 
A Girl Called Disaster - Nancy Farmer (Zimbabwe)  JF
The Ear, the Eye, and the Arm - Nancy Farmer (Zimbabwe)  YA
Poisonwood Bible - Barbara Kingsolver (Congo) I read this a year or two ago. I found the frame distracting, because the story is of a family of daughters, and each chapter is from a different daughter's perspective. However, once I got used to it, I enjoyed seeing the different perspectives. Loved this one in the end, though it was a slow read due to the density and changing narrators.
Cry, the Beloved Country - Alan Paton (South Africa) I read this in high school, so I don't remember anything about it except that it involved apartheid, and something about a heart-breaking son named Absalom.
Things Fall Apart - Chinua Achebe (Nigeria) I also read this in high school, and all I remember from it is that they thought twin babies were such bad luck that they killed them.
What is the What? - Dave Eggers (Sudan)
Mara, Daughter of the Nile - Eloise Jarvis McGraw  JF
The Golden Goblet - Eloise Jarvis McGraw  JF
Escape from Rwanda - Bizimana, This one is put out by Deseret Book, so I wouldn't be surprised if the author ends up LDS in the end.


Lili said...

I was pretty sure I'd seen a news editorial about the author of the last one, and yes, he's lds:


Mary said...

What a great idea for a book group! I have read a lot of those books. Heart of Darkness is a particular favorite because for a humanities seminar at BYU we read it several times from different perspectives (feminist, freudian, etc.) -- crazy! And I love Poisonwood Bible. I cannot conceive how Barbara Kingsolver could write with all of those voices -- she is just brilliant.

Queen Elizabeth said...

I loved Poisonwood Bible (it's been a while) and Cry, The Beloved Country is amazing. What is the What is good but gets bogged down in some parts. You'll have to read Long Walk to Freedom sometime (long but amazing). Cutting for Stone starts in Africa (Ethiopia) but ends in America. Infidel is really interesting, also. I'll stop. How fun!