The Book of Memory Petina Gappah

51S1qXfh0-L._AA160_Pub: Faber & Faber

 

The story you have asked me to tell begins not with the ignominious ugliness of Lloyd’s death but on a long-ago day in April when the sun seared my blistered face and I was nine years old and my father and mother sold me to a strange man. I say my father and my mother, but really it was just my mother.

Memory, the narrator of The Book of Memory, is an albino woman languishing in Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison in Harare, Zimbabwe, where she has been convicted of murder. As part of her appeal her lawyer insists that she write down what happened as she remembers it. The death penalty is a mandatory sentence for murder, and Memory is, both literally and metaphorically, writing for her life. As her story unfolds, Memory reveals that she has been tried and convicted for the murder of Lloyd Hendricks, her adopted father. But who was Lloyd Hendricks? Why does Memory feel no remorse for his death? And did everything happen exactly as she remembers?

Moving between the townships of the poor and the suburbs of the rich, and between the past and the present, Memory weaves a compelling tale of love, obsession, the relentlessness of fate and the treachery of memory.

Maximum Security Prison in Harare, Zimbabwe, where she has been convicted of murder. As part of her appeal her lawyer insists that she write down what happened as she remembers it. The death penalty is a mandatory sentence for murder, and Memory is, both literally and metaphorically, writing for her life. As her story unfolds, Memory reveals that she has been tried and convicted for the murder of Lloyd Hendricks, her adopted father. But who was Lloyd Hendricks? Why does Memory feel no remorse for his death? And did everything happen exactly as she remembers?

 

The blurb of this book tells the reader all they need to know of of this rapturous and tender first novel by Petina Gappah.

Richly descriptive, it is a tale of ‘ the haves and have nots’, telling of Memorys love of the written word, her struggles and her family.  There are some funny moments, such as her response to the Goodwill Fellowship lady when asked what she missed the most, and there are sad ones, such as the discovery of the reason behind her incarceration.

Obvious race issues peppered with facts and history add to the charm of this delightful and original read.

The Book of Memory will leave you shocked and Petina’s talent to engage the reader in the way she has is simply refreshing. Memory’s narration is a joy to read, I embraced her life and the characters involved and relished the different stages of her  story.

This is book to be read and loved, and one I truly savoured.

4*/5

 

 

4*/5

 

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