Monday 21 December 2015

The Prisoner's Wife: A Memoir, 1999, Asha Bandele ***

The Prisoner's Wife; A Memoir is a non-fiction narrative of how the writer (Asha Bandele) fell in love with a man condemned twenty to life imprisonment for murder.

Asha's writing is poetical, lyrical, descriptive and graphical, there is no way you wouldn't grasp her narrative. Sometimes I just have to reread some paragraph, not because I do not understand but simply for the pleasure of it. She is a recognised poet by the way, a skilled she applied in the making of this book. She met Rashid, the prisoner, during
a poetry recitation in prison.  

This memoir is not a historical account per se, it is more of a reflection and a soaring lament of a young woman who sought for love in the wrong place.

Asha's nature being very artistic, sensitive and tendency to depression, fell in love with a man who was condemned for murder and expected the love to be perfect.  At a point I wanted to give up reading because I felt that she is not in any way taking full responsibility of her actions. For instance, she severely criticises the way the prison officers scrutinise her belongings and how they were being controlled during normal and conjugal visits. I was about to tell her,

-Dear Asha, do not take it personal, the prison guards are only doing their job. In fact, that is how life in prison is suppose to feel like,  especially in your husband's case where he carelessly deprived another human being his right to be alive. I know you said he is a changed man and has repented from his old ways, however, first and foremost he is convicted of a crime and secondly we cannot be sure he is a changed man until he is out and running on the streets again. He was not unlawfully incarcerated, it was not on self-defence, he was sort of living on the edge and he is lucky enough to end up in prison and not dead. In my opinion instead of blaming the prison system for being an obstacle to the triumph of your love, I'd rather blame the system that set up the trap for young handsome men like Rashid to pull the trigger and shoot another fellow.

So said, the book is well written, a fast read and an engaging story. However, I find the content somewhat out of place. Do I recommend? Yes, it is an example of a poetical and lyrical writing.

Have you read this novel? I'd like to know your thoughts.


  1. Thanks for the review! *sigh* This is a book I'm sure I'd get frustrated with -_-
    There are plenty of fish in the sea...

    1. Another one, I'd like to have your opinion on. Comliments of the season!

  2. Such an amazing review. You know it's an engaging book when you want to write a letter to the author.

    1. I pondered over your comment, and yes you are right! it was weirdly engaging!

  3. Dear Ms. Bandele
    I have translated your novel into Arabic. How can I contact you for permission. Thanks


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