Friday, February 24, 2012

What I've been reading lately

I am not yet involved in a book club in Nairobi (my friend and I are starting one soon!) and I miss my group in Kampala- but I just found a wee blog-book hop.

The Zanzibar Chest by Aidan Hartley.

(book cover)

Book description (from Amazon) -
Hartley, a frontline reporter who covered the atrocities of 1990s Africa, embarks on a journey to unlock the mysteries and secrets of his own family's 150-year-colonial legacy in Africa, and delivers a beautiful, sometimes harrowing memoir of intrepid young men cut down in their prime, of forbidden love and its fatal consequences, and of family and history, and the collision of cultures that defined them both.

My thoughts -
During the term time I find it hard to get into books, however I read this African memoir in a couple of weeks. It has always been on my list, as 'essential Africa reading' and it deserved its spot there.

Hartley jumps back and forth in time and countries, from his own recent history as a journalist, to that of his colonial family and to a discovery he made (diaries of a dear friend of his father's, Davey) and his journey into Davey's past in Arabia.

I didn't find Hartley a particularly likeable person, but his writing is beautiful, honest, powerful and at times (especially when he was in Rwanda) harrowing-I was in tears reading sections of The Zanzibar Chest. At first I was drawn more to the stories of Hartley's interesting colonial family history and his journey to Davey's past, opposed to the stories of Hartley's Africa, which were woven amongst them throughout. But  it was the latter, Hartley's experiences as a journalist in East Africa, that I ended up enjoying more. Stories of experiences showing the rawness of Africa, but written in a way that shows faith, not in a 'hopeless nation' kind of way. Africa is Hartley's home and heart. The only negative thing I have to say, is that I feel that he could have used his stories in this one book, to write a small handful.

I would recommend this book to anybody who is has journeyed to Africa or would like to, from the comfort of their bed.

The host


  1. This sounds like a great book! Thanks for your comment. I removed the word verification. Blogger just changed the format to where its now a pain. I had been meaning to change it!

  2. Wow, that does sound like a great book for a traveler! And I love the fact that you are traveling!

  3. Yay! Glad you decided to write a post and join the link up! What better to bring people together than talking about books they love! :)

  4. Wiz-that's good. Think it is worse for me as my internet is pretty slow...

  5. Travel books are always so intriguing! Sounds like a great read!

  6. kimberly rae-glad i found the hop through you-thank you!

    Sarah-not really a travel book-the writer is from Africa-but he does travel to work as a reporter

  7. thank you for checking out my blog. I love urs. Following it :)

    I love the cover of the book and thank you for the review. Gonna pick it when I am in the library next.

  8. Nice! I hope to visit someday. I'm glad I found your blog! I'm an expat in Tanzania. :)


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