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Petina Gappah

Autor(a) de The Book of Memory

5+ Works 907 Membros 66 Críticas 1 Favorited

About the Author

Image credit: Photo by Sarah Lee

Obras por Petina Gappah

The Book of Memory (2015) 313 exemplares
An Elegy for Easterly (2009) 275 exemplares
Out of Darkness, Shining Light (2019) 273 exemplares
Rotten Row (2016) 45 exemplares

Associated Works

One World: A Global Anthology of Short Stories (2009) — Contribuidor — 98 exemplares
Sex and Death: Stories (2016) — Contribuidor — 44 exemplares
Long Time Coming. Short Writings from Zimbabwe (2008) — Contribuidor — 7 exemplares


Conhecimento Comum

Nome legal
Gappah, Petina
Data de nascimento
País (no mapa)
Local de nascimento
Copperbelt Province, Zambia
Locais de residência
Geneva, Switzerland
Harare, Zimbabwe
University of Cambridge (MA)
University of Graz (PhD)
University of Zimbabwe (JD)
lawyer (international trade)
Prémios e menções honrosas
Guardian First Book Award (2009)
African Literary Person of the Year (Brittle Paper)
Clare Paterson (Janklow and Nesbit, UK)

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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.



These dark little stories, often comic, are set around Rotten Row, Zimbabwe's Criminal Division, and centre on the people who work there, and those who for good reasons and bad pass through. There was much to enjoy. Clever characterisations, clever changes of voice ('From a Town Called Enkeldoorn' is entirely written as comments on a web forum, for instance), and above all, the introduction to each story with a quote from the Bible, written in Shona (I love 'Buku yaMuprofita Jeremia' - that's 'The Book of Jeremiah' to you) make these stories, often of an underclass, to be page turners. In the end though, some of these tales got a bit samey-samey and I didn't finish the book. I would if I had my own copy, by picking the stories up again from time to time. But it's from the library, and they want it back.… (mais)
Margaret09 | 2 outras críticas | Apr 15, 2024 |
We all know something about David Livingstone. He was the Victorian explorer who was determined to learn the source of the Nile River He was also was a physician and missionary who hoped to use his influence to stop the east African Arab Swahili slave trade. This book is the story of the mainly ex-slaves who after his death, as the expedition was still questing for the Nile's elusive source, decided to bury his heart where he had died, and transport his body to the coast so that his bones could be buried back in England. It's told in two voices: That of his cook, Halima, and of the Christian Joseph Wainwright, also born into slavery. Halima is garrulous and not always easy to stick with, whereas Joseph, though self-righteous and opinionated, is a more engaging read. This is the story of an extraordinary journey, bringing a dead man who they had learnt to respect if not love through wild and dangerous conditions, often experiencing animosity in the villages they passed through. It's the story of people who were largely disregarded and disrespected by the white people they encountered, and hints at the legacy of slavery and colonialism which would Africa for many decades after. A powerful story of courage, loyalty, resilience and of all-too human failings… (mais)
Margaret09 | 14 outras críticas | Apr 15, 2024 |
A historical novel pursuing a brilliant idea, namely describing the lives and ordeals of the 69 men and women who carried Livingstone’s body from the place he died at lake Bangweulu to Bagamoyo, and onwards to Westminster Abbey. The novel aims at decolonizing the idea of the white man as ‘discoverer’ of an uncharted world. Also the novel hopes to deconstruct or at least qualify the idea of faithful, noble savages, who are so loyal to their white leader that they carry his body home: other motives play a role: dreams of rewards and riches, opportunities to become ordained and advance in life, a new life abroad, a return home as a free person or a Chief in waiting. Despite this promise, the novel was a bit disappointing, nothing much happens for a long time.

The voice of Halima, daughter of a favourite mistress of the Liwali of Zanzibar, cook for Bwana Daudi (Livingstone), is a cheeky voice and gives us context in the first part. The duplicitous, sanctimonious voice of Jacob Wainwright, a Yao who was sold in slavery as a kid and freed by an English anti-slavery vessel between Africa and Zanzibar, guides us throughout the journey to Bagamoyo. He was sent on to India, to the so called Nassicker school, where liberated boy slaves were educated by British missionaries, taking on their surnames. Jacob was one of the 10 Nassicker boys who Stanley sent to join Livingstone after their famous meeting up at Ujiji.

The plot of the ordeals they encounter on their tortuous way to the coast centres on the shifty character of Chirango, who secretly plays a key role in the death of many travelling companions. He was destined to become a great warrior Changamire, but his career was derailed and he blames the whitemen for that. He represents an authentic African voice, who perceives what’s coming (white colonial dominance) and uses all means at his disposal to thwart that. Chirango is cozying up to the sanctimonious Jacob, who he sets up for an illicit affair with the voluptuous Ntaoéka. Chirango is also taking personal revenge on slights perpetrated on him. In the end he is killed himself by the force of group anger.

In the third part, we hear Halima’s and Jacob Wainwright’s voices for a last time, each looking back on subsequent events from different places. Halima ended up being manumitted and the proud owner of a house in Zanzibar (which she later gives up for a house in Bagamoyo). She ultimately got something going with Susi, the faithful follower of Livingstone, who undertakes some more expeditions, after his journey to England to help interpret Livingstone’s diaries, and before succumbing and converting to Christianity on his death bed. Wainwright does not end up an ordained priest, after being one of the coffin bearers at Westminster Abbey. His tall tales of making converts does not sit well with the white clergy in England, and when in frustration he then points out Livingstone’s cozying up to slave traders like Tippo Tip, his fate is sealed. He is sent back destitute to Zanzibar and after some days as street sweeper he is picked up and sent on a missionary expedition to the court of Buganda. Contrary to expectations, there he is treated as a houseboy for the British Anglican mission head, and after some years of humble service taken on as a court translator by the Bakaka.

Somehow it all ends quite different from expectation for most of the crew that carried Livingstone’s corpse across the African savannah, except for Halima and the two Indian doctors. Which is probably a fair reflection of the outcome of Livingstone’s noble missions – colonialism with its ugly face. Gappah took over ten years writing this book – this must have been her original idea of being a writer, but she had to undergo a heavy pregnancy to deliver it.
… (mais)
alexbolding | 14 outras críticas | May 13, 2023 |
purchased HC as gift for Dad in November 2019 - David Livingstone story by lawyer and writer from Zimbabwe
Overgaard | 14 outras críticas | Oct 9, 2022 |



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