Fall Book Review: The Book of Memory by Petina Gappah

My Synopsis 
Imagine This: You've spent two years in prison.  About to face execution. In Zimbabwe. 

It's a known fact that African prisons are not exactly the safe havens Western prisons are. The food is shitty. The toilet rolls are not enough to contain your shit. And every time, there's a new death recorded. Even in the women's ward.

So you killed the man your parents sold you to. And you are the only woman in Zimbabwe on death-row—so you are quite a sensation in the media. Except there are no hangmen in the country to put you out of your misery (from the annoying sadistic guards who ensure you have absolutely nothing to enjoy).

So while you are waiting for the hangman position to be filled (by someone heartless and brave enough), your lawyer insists you write about every little detail about your crime to gain amnesty.

Your life is no more in the government's hands. It's in yours. How do you detail your murder enough to get a pardon? And more importantly, where do you begin? (You are not too sure of your recall skills).

Memory's impending doom summarized for your delight. 

My Review  

Oh, I adored this book! So you know in my review I'd be as crude as some of the inmates of Orange is the New Black!

The storyline! Amazing! Albino girl commits murder, gets sent to prison, is bullied because of her features, and because she's a woman with education, gets opportunity to write herself out of jail. I like that it's set in Africa, Zimbabwe, giving an insight about the people, their culture through the point of view of a character who's been overseas! Lovely! A star!──

You'd love Memory. Very dull yet intriguing. She has a voice that has the power to reel every reader in to take her side though she's committed a heinous crime. You'd find yourself sympathizing with her about the harsh conditions in Zimbabwean prisons, and her impending doom. More important, you'd love her story from a traditional background (with strange believes to match) to her transformation into a fine Zimbabwean woman with a very English mindset that erases all traces of her native upbringing. A star.──

Other characters you'd love are: Synodia, the authoritating prison guard who has a (teasing) version of baby-talk that aggravates every prisoner and is enough to make any reader wish her tragic end. There's Loveness, the prison guard who's more understanding to Memory due to a secret she keeps. You'd also adore Lloyd, the white man who's  Memory's guardian and the reason she's in jail. Memory's traditional community also embodies characters with primitive (superstitious) beliefs that give an insight into the psychological makeup of the uneducated and rural Zimbabwean.──

It was nice delving into a story with people of different cultures and backgrounds that also has a killer plot to match. Plus this book has a very fulfilling end, so what's not to like?──

Good work by Petina Gappah. Hope to read more code-mixing/setting-mixing titles from her.──★★★★★

My rating: Five out of five stars!

Petina Gappah's novel debut is available on Amazon

I recommend this to anyone who loves a very different read set in the most remotest locations with people of different culture. Anyone who wants a novel on the painful state of prisons in Africa, should grab this book. Plus if you love very biographical novels that are so true and real, this is just a great pick for your fall reading. 

My work not done here. Off to post my review on Amazon and Goodreads

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