“As murungudunhu, I am a black woman who is imbued not with the whiteness of murungu, of privilege, but of dunhu, of ridicule and fakery, a ghastly whiteness”
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book, not only for the funny bits but for the issues it addressed. The Book of Memory is about Memory (also called Mnemosyne). An albino woman who is the only female on Death Row in the Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison in Zimbabwe. Accused of killing Lloyd, a white man who adopted her at age nine whom she insists she did not kill.
“She had one of those frozen faces with precisely matching eyebrows like she was Botoxed to the eyeballs even before the invention of Botox. Her hair was sprayed into such stiffness that it seemed as though nothing could move it, not even the blistering high wind of an August day.”
With names like Sinfree, Officer Rollers, and Jimmy Blue Butter, you are bound to laugh.
I finished reading this novel and sat amazed at how cultural beliefs and superstitions could destroy a family. I thought about all the African albinos and the troubles they are facing. And I was thankful that this book tries to shed some light on it. I will give this book a 4/5 and easily recommend it to anyone.
The Book of Memory was my first bookish trip to Zimbabwe and I think it made a great first trip. I certainly will be visiting again. I will leave you with my favourite quote from the book, a truth that I think we all must embrace:
“It is your choice, Mnemosyne. You can spend your life feeling sorry for yourself, or you can simply choose not to. You can invite people’s pity or you can refuse to be an object”
Author: Petina Gappah
Published by: Faber & Faber
Date of Publication: 2015
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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 convicted of the murder of Lloyd Hendricks. 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.