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. As her story unfolds, Memory reveals that she has been convicted for the murder of her adoptive father. But did everything happen exactly as she remembers?
"Mistress of crushing irony and acerbic humour...this is a fiercely indignant and justly cynical work." (Sunday Times on An Elegy for Easterly)
"Gappah's lightness of touch and excellent sense of humour moderate some of the gravest moments." (Daily Telegraph on An Elegy for Easterly)
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A slow-burner, but a real treat.
This book will haunt me for a long time. Elegant in its simplicity and spare prose style, it crept up on me with some considerable stealth. I took me a couple of hours to become totally wrapped up in its charm but by that time I realised I was listening to an expert piece of storytelling. I was caught up in the fate of Memory, the storyteller, and the host of characters that fleshed out this simple story of an albino girl caught up in a convoluted crime story in post-colonial Zimbabwe. At the heart of the story lies Memory's belief that she was sold as a young girl ,by her parents, to a rich white man. Many years later she finds herself in prison for that man's murder and her lawyer, as part of the appeal process, asks Memory to write down her story. It slowly unravels and, aided by African myths and the contribution of other characters/events in the prison, reveals the heartbreaking truth of her childhood. The denouement left me reeling with sadness and empathy for Memory.
The narration was beautifully paced and the narrator expertly blended the African and colonial voices of the piece.
A 5* read in every sense. I always feel that one of the signs of a good book is how much you invest in the characters/story and believe in them. If it leaves me wanting more and I hurry off to check out the author's back catalogue, it usually means that I have just read a great book and one that I will probably read again. I will certainly revisit this one.
The book of Memory