Discussion Forums - Foreign-Language/World Literature

Topic: How One Book Leads to Another

Club rule - Please, if you cannot be courteous and respectful, do not post in this forum.
  Unlock Forum posting with Annual Membership.
Subject: How One Book Leads to Another
Date Posted: 1/25/2014 4:57 PM ET
Member Since: 10/17/2006
Posts: 1,427
Back To Top

I suppose that the more one reads, the more the "new" stuff relates to the "old", or as we would say in this high-tech age of ours, the new data that we enter has to be collated with the data in storage, and the two synthesized together.  Anyhoo, it happened to me again----as I was reading Ngugi wa Thiongo writing about his native Kenya at the time the British had arrived and begun to dominate it and disrupt tribal life and customs.    And then, after a while, I recalled where I'd read something with that theme, before---I mean, besides Nigerian novelist Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart.  One of my favorite Canadian writers, Margaret Laurence, lived in Africa as a young married woman and began her writing career then.  She wrote The Prophet's Camel Bell (Somalia), and  This Side Jordan, set in the Gold Coast (which became Ghana in 1957)  The second-named is "a novel that conjures up the African atmosphere of conflicting cultural duality in terms that have universal application in a work of universal appeal."   One literary critic/scholar called Laurence's work "the best expatriate writing about Africa"   I hope readers seeking understanding of post-colonial African countries will read this very perceptive novel.

Last Edited on: 4/21/14 4:15 PM ET - Total times edited: 3
Date Posted: 2/26/2014 5:30 PM ET
Member Since: 9/14/2009
Posts: 611
Back To Top

I haven't read many books relating to Africa, but I'm trying to expand my reading through the World Lit. mini challenge this year. I have a copy of Ngugi wa Thiong'o's Weep Not Child arriving anyday now from PBS to get me started, I have four library cards, and no local system stocks much in the way of African writers. Nobody had the Margaret Laurence books you mentioned, but I ordered The Prophet's Camel Bell off PBS.  I can't find This Side Jordan anywhere locally or PBs. I have always been amazed how my reading leads me from one thing to another, and past readings are constantly recalled by prompts from current reading.

Date Posted: 2/27/2014 9:08 PM ET
Member Since: 10/17/2006
Posts: 1,427
Back To Top

I'm staying with the "sub-Sahara" category a while longer----while on a trip Down South recently, I came across a book entitled Do They Hear You When You Cry?, by Fauziya Kassindja, read some of it, and was allowed to bring it home with me when I left.  I'm going to finish it now, before I pursue the World Lit or the Classics Challenge for 2014 further.  It's an autobiographical account by a young girl who passed an idyllic childhood in Togo, West Africa, sheltered from the tribal practices of polygamy and genital mutilation, that ended with her beloved father's sudden death. Forced into an arranged marriage at age seventeen, Fauziya was told to prepare for kakia, the ritual also known as female genital mutilation. a ritual no woman can refuse.  But Fauziya dared to try, fleeing Africa and seeking asylum in America only to be locked up in U.S. prisons for sixteen months until a woman lawyer, an  expert in refugee law and a human rights advocate, intervened on her behalf..  Fauziya's case ultimately led to a landmark decision in immigration history.

Last Edited on: 3/3/14 3:33 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 4/20/2014 3:49 PM ET
Member Since: 6/30/2008
Posts: 3,545
Back To Top

I am more connected to the old colonial period of Africa I guess. Through books like Out of Africa and Elsbeth Huxley's Flame Trees of Thika and it's sequel The Mottled Lizard. There is an interesting travel book by Paul Theroux called The Dark Star Safari. This book is mostly travel but Theroux mixes in some Journalistic reporting and a good deal of opinion. His trip was from Cairo to Johannesburg overland. a little bit of train and a lot of large cargo trucks that take on a passenger or two. Theroux lived and worked in Africa at an early time in his life and still has a lot of contacts and acquaintances there.