I love a book that makes me think.
This is a book that I have been meaning to read for years, and I finally got around to it now. It won the first Giller Prize ever awarded in 1984, and as regular readers of my rambling posts know, I am generally a big fan of the Giller winners.
Plus it is mainly set in Tanzania, a country that I know fairly well.
What more could I ask for in a book?
The style of this book is very different, but I didn't realise this until I had almost finished it. It is a mish-mash of journal entries, first-person narrative, third-person narrative, letters, memos, book excerpts, footnotes. But they are all woven together so seamlessly that as I said, I didn't even think about the format until close to the end.
As I mentioned in an earlier post, I have found myself reading more memoirs in recent years, and I especially enjoy the ones that flow like a novel. I think that I can say that this is a novel that almost reads like a memoir. It is hard to believe that the events in this book didn't take place in real life!
The place came alive for me. I have spent a bit of time in Dar es Salaam, and it was fun to come across descriptions of places that I know (though in an era that I don't). I am interested to know what other people who have read this book but who haven't been to East Africa think of the descriptions - it is hard to read a book as an impartial observer!
It is a multi-threaded story where the threads don't come together until the very end. The story of an English colonist in East Africa; the story of an Indian school teacher arriving in Tanganyika (now Tanzania); the story of a family tragedy. I want to go back to the beginning now and re-read it with the knowledge of how all of the parts fit together.
So a great read through-and-through!