Sunday 7 May 2017

The Book of Memory, 2015, Petinah Gappah ****

Memory is an albino, who is found guilty of Lloyd's death. The man whom she believes her parents sold her to. In order for her to have a second trial, she is required to write her story for an appeal. The Book of Memory is her story.
It starts with life with her parents and siblings in the slums, 1468 Maharapara street. What strikes me most in this part of her story is the continuous blistering of her skin due to sun exposure, I thought she would die of skin cancer at any given moment.

The second part of the book focuses
on her life in Summer Madness and her relationship with Lloyd. The blisters disappear, wonders of sunscreen and skin care. In this second part of the novel, the book becomes interesting. Finally, the last part, titled Chikurubi, consists of her life in prison and consequently finding out the truth.
"How do you begin your life again after you find out that everything you thought was true about yourself is wrong?"
I like Memory in spite of her slow narrative. I get to realise what it feels like to be a black albino in Zimbabwe, what it feels like to have a mental disorder with little or no resources. Another book  by an African writer that narrates about an albino is The Book Of Chameleons by José Eduardo Agualusa which,I highly recommend.

The Book of Memory is not a page turner, however it is good literature. The words are carefully chosen, the storyline is novel, interesting and invites for a discussion, the voice of Memory is compelling and Petina Gappah is a fine writer. Her books I'll always look forward to reading.  I read her first book  An Elegy for Easterly published in 2009, a collection of short stories.

If you like good literature, this is your book.

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