Feb ’14 Book (July’s People)

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I JUST finished this book. February was short and I had many things to do. I’m amazed (and ashamed) that I’ve never read a Nadine Gordimer book before. Nobody recommended this one. I was at my favourite bookstore just looking for South African Fiction. July’s People jumped out at me.

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I have often wondered what would have become of South Africa if the ‘transition’ was not peaceful. Things got pretty violent before our first democratic elections. Much of the violence was between black people. I won’t give a history lesson because… Ain’t nobody got time for that.

Nadine Gordimer’s book goes to that place: What if there was a violent take over? The Smales, a liberal couple with 3 children, find themselves with nowhere to run. They are taken in by their servant July. He takes them to his village and suddenly they find themselves relying on July. For everything.

You know I’m not big on ‘spoilers’.

Writing: I am so happy to have finally read my first Nadine Gordimer. She writes beautifully. That is stating the obvious, I guess. They don’t just give the Nobel (Literature) Prize to anyone.

The story: Very very intense. I realised that I would often hold my breathe while reading it. There are so many aspects to the story that I feel like I should read this book again (later in the year). Some of the conversations that the characters have made me wish South Africans would do the same. There are many things that we haven’t been able to be honest about. A lot of misconceptions that lead to resentment. There is a lot of that in this book.

Verdict: Go to your library, bookstore etc. and get this book.

On to the next one!

Jan ’14 (Americanah)

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I’m at it again. Trying to read one book a month. To be fair. I started reading Americanah in December but I was at home and my family doesn’t give me ‘free’. There were so many wonderful reviews by magazine people and ‘real’ people about this book. I had to get it. Purple Hibiscus is also a very beautiful book, so I trusted the author.

This is a pic of me reading the book in the bath. It was December and that was the only time I could read.
This is a pic of me reading the book in the bath. It was December and that was the only time I could read.

Honestly, I wanted to love this book. This book is the ‘perfect’ guy that your friends try to set you up with. ‘He’s perfect’ they’ll say. You know, and like, his sister. “How different can they be if they were raised by the same parent?” you ask. The answer: VERY!

There is no doubt that Chimamanda Ngozi Adicihie writes beautifully. I enjoy her ‘way’ with words. She makes ordinary things seems so enchanting and yet brutally real. THAT is why I love her. It’s the story that I’m not all that crazy about. Love the writing. Not the story. Is it  a bad story? Not at all. Just not one that I enjoyed.

It is the story of 2 high school sweethearts who seem to have it all figured out. Of course, we all know that nobody has it ‘all figured out’ in high school. So life throws them some real curve balls. They find themselves on ‘opposite sides of the world’ and estranged. The book deals with how different ‘blackness; is for African (in this case Nigerians) than it is for ‘African Americans’. I enjoyed some of the insights. The main character Ifemelu becomes a ‘race blogger’ in the US and she adjusts (somewhat) to life in the US. But the desire to go back home is so strong that she finally makes the move back home.

I feel like I’m describing the entire book he he he. Read this book. It is beautifully written by an author that I love and respect. Perhaps you’ll enjoy the story. I haven’t met one person who didn’t.