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Sunday, September 18, 2016

The Book of Memory by Petina Gappah

Memory is a girl's name and this is her narration of her stay in prison in Harare, Zimbabwe. Incarcerated for the murder of her guardian, Memory is due for execution, though execution has not taken place in Harare for over ten years so it is life imprisonment. There is no way that Memory can explain the circumstances of Lloyd's gruesome death as everything points out that she is the killer.

This story outlines the life of an albino girl born in Zimbabwe and the twists and turns her life took before she ended in prison. The account of her life before she was taken in by Lloyd was also a difficult one - poverty and an antagonism on the part of her mother towards her which could not be understood till the end, the cycle of superstition and ancient beliefs and then Memory's education and broadening of her outlook till the end.

This was a very powerful emotional read. Not an easy one but the narrative was as if Memory was in the same room as the reader, recounting her story day by day, going back and back till she was a mere toddler and then coming back to the young woman she was today.

This was a recommendation from one of my blogging friends and I was very glad that I was able to get to this hitherto unknown author and subject.

Thanks to Netgalley who sent the book to me, courtesy of Faber & Faber Ltd. 


  1. As I was reading your review I thought - not easy to read and then you said that. Not sure I could face into it but I can see how it would be very powerful.

  2. Oh this does sound like a tough read but from what you say well worth it - thank you so much for sharing.

  3. As you said, Mystica, this doesn't sound at all like an easy read and lately I do not seem to be in a mood for books that give me a jolt. But I'm adding this title to my TBR list for when I'm in a different mood. When I was a kid, one of our friends was an albino girl - she was readily accepted by all of us and was just one of the group of ragtag kids running around the neighborhood getting into mischief. Hadn't thought of her in years, but now I'm sort of remembering.

  4. What an intriguing story! Thanks for sharing...and for visiting my blog.

  5. I agree with other comments - sounds rough to read but powerful. Glad you got the chance and thanks for your thoughts.