Born in a South Africa divided by racism and hatred, this one small boy will come to lead all the tribes of Africa. Through enduring friendships with Hymie and Gideon, Peekay gains the strength he needs to win out. And in a final conflict with his childhood enemy, the Judge, Peekay will fight to the death for justice.
©1989 Bryce Courtenay; (P)2000 Bolinda Publishing Pty Ltd.
I have a lot of issues with this book, but there are some things that are good, even beautiful about it. Courtenay does a wonderful job of describing the settings and I can feel, taste, smell it as if I were there. Also this book is set in an interesting place with some very important, very heavy themes. He drives home the point of racial equality and the worth of humans regardless of race or religion. The sentiment certainly is noble.
However, the craft of the book is lacking. There is not enough tension in the book (despite all the graphic violence) mostly because it starts off with Peekay being harassed and tortured as a small 5 year old. After his awful experience at boarding school Peekay decides that his destiny is to become a champion boxer and, as soon as he starts boxing, he becomes undefeated with something like 116 fights, he was pretty brilliant concerning music, he speaks something like 5 languages fluently and uses it for the good of mankind, and all his academic pursuits he mostly achieves (no he didn't get the Road Scholarship to Oxford University, but he did get accepted and had scholarships to other Universities). So there was no tension for his character, because after Peekay picks himself up at age 5, he himself is consistently a winner in athletics and academics. His success is a sure bet. Sure people around him have awful lives and some die in horrible ways, but the character seemingly overcomes his early childhood almost as if he were superhuman. It doesn't feel real or accessible to me.
The thing I had most problems with is that Peekay, because of his empathy and his fluency in many languages and the tribal and cultural niceties, somehow becomes the white boy savior of the black people. I think I would have been fine with him doing great things for the black community in an extraordinary way, but the addition to him treating the black people as less than subhuman, changing the prison system so that blacks could get mail from their loved ones, and him starting a school for black people to read and write (all of which are plausible things for an extraordinary character in a historical fiction), but also he became the Tadpole Angel: Zulu spiritual leader of the African tribes of the region. The fact that the blacks in this book regarded him as a magical savior just really seemed overboard for me.
So my basic response to this book was that it was tedious and long and meandered through seemingly a lifetime of this character's experiences, but mostly I found a lot of this novel a little too fantastical for historical fiction. It felt like a lot of wish fulfillment to me.
Terrific story, learned a lot about South Africa and you can see it with the words, excellent narrator! I highly recommend this listen!
I have been a long time listener of audio books and many I have enjoyed, others I have endured. The Power of One was fantastic. I rate it as the best audio book I have listened to date. The story is compelling and brought to life by Humphrey Bower's excellent narration and characterisations. I can't wait to listen to Tandia
a great listen; the reader is South African and this enhances the listening experience. The book is funny and sad. One of the best books I have listened to. It may appeal more to men than women.
By far the best story and narrating I've yet to experience in Audible's collection. Bower's makes the listen all the worthwhile. The passion and dialects he's able to banter is exceptional. Although the story is a little far fetched at times, the book left me wishing for more.
Truly great books are centered about archetypal characters you can empathize with and genuinely feel for, and above all they need to tell a great story. The Power of One fits the bill. A genuinely awe-inspiring, powerful story, this is one book I'm ecstatic I bumped into... five stars!!!!
I have a DLitt and Phil Degree which must imply a level of discernment? I just clocked over at 60. The significance is that I have read a whole lot of books. I'm now revisiting some of my all time favourites - and enjoying some first time round books. Books are my friends. Audible is JUST AMAZING - takes me back to pre -TV days, with my ear pressed to a crackly transistor radio - but now SO MUCH better and more 'classy' from a Kindle!
Loved the performance of this book - AND the characters. Mr Chook - What a chicken! Peekay did get me down a bit - so clever, so wonderful - and a bit of a goodie goodie two shoes. At times I gagged on his sweetness. Yet, evryone else absoludel made up for the treacly Peekay. Sad that the book ended....
Immigration lawyer in Kansas City. I like Character driven dramas, fantasy (monsters, magic and witches oh my!) and coming of age stories. Favs include: The Book Thief, The Game of Throne series, Harry Potter Series, Dresden Files, Nightside series, anything by Neil Gaimen, 100 Years of Solitude.
Like all of Courtney's books, I loved the characters and the story, but it just kind of ended very anti-climatically. I did, however, love the narrator and the story was good, I just was disappointed at the end.
What can I say. After reading Shantaram I had to find other books narrated by Humphry Bower. This is my third Bryce Courtenay novel and next week I get 2 more. Already I have them picked out.
Bryce is working on a new novel, it may be out now. Surely hope we get it here. Life will be dimmer without his stories and narration of Humphry.
The production value of this audiobook and especially the narrator are excellent. It is a captivating read, paced well, and the narrator captures the different characters very well.
I read the book then saw the 1991 (or 92) film made just after the ending of Apartheid. They are essentially two stories. You can't capture the nuances of this very difficult story on the screen so they essentially created their own story.
It is important to keep in mind that this is fiction despite the autobiographical statements of the author. Appreciating that allows one to focus on the lessons of the story and not either the tremendously more complex reality of South Africa at the time or the one-dimensional way the Black Africans and to a great extent the Afrikaners are portrayed. I'd be interested in what Black South Africans think about the story.
Although essentially a story of the emergence of a child from early oppression and tragedy, he is nonetheless a privileged child by virtue of his "race" and nationality so although the idea of the "power of one" as a means to overcome personal tragedies is a compelling one that privilege cannot be ignored.
Amazing, accurate account of growing up in South Africa and attending boarding school. Very moving and fantastic in the detail of PKs adventures...
"A scary truth set in a powerful story"
A great book.. The reality of apartheid set in the story of a young white boy. His simple innocence and the terrible world in which he lives shows a unique portrayal of the issues. This book will have you laughing, then crying and desperate to read the follow up book Tandia to find out what happens next. I couldn't stop listening.
"One of the best audiobooks I've ever listened to!"
The narrator of this audiobook is fantastic and makes it even better than reading the book itself. One of the most interesting and inspiring stories I have ever come across, probably even more so if you are South African. The characters are excellent and there's never a dull moment. I even learnt quite a bit about boxing...
Would definitely recommend.
"I felt the pain"
Such an in depth description of life in South Africa after the Boer war, I learned so much. I have dropped it to 4 stars because I did sometimes feel that the charachter PK was "too good to be true" and glorified in his sucess a little too much.
However you do feel as though you are there, and the narrator very sucessfully modified his accent for the different charachters
Really enjoyed this book so much! Peake has a great story to tell.
The reader does an excellent job of 'doing' all the different character voices, well done!
Reason for ERGH is that I've finished it - wow I loved this book - some of the sentences are life changing quotes. As Peekay says "with the head and then with the heart".
Use your head and buy this book and with your heart you will love it forever.
Can't wait to listen to Tandia.
P.S. Humphrey Bower's reading is superb my congratulations to him
Fantastic narrator and a great story, even if the hero is too brilliant to be true! Loved it and will be trying more by the same author/narrator combination
"Epic story beautifully told"
A real page turner of a book that is loosely based around the authors own experiences as a young boy growing up in South Africa during the second world war. One of the best books I've listened to in ages. Great story, wonderfully narrated.
"Must have a copy of this book"
Wonderful!! .I enjoyed this book, very positive and very powerful. Superb Reading, narrator really did a great job. I love the book very much and highly recommend this book
Having just written a poor review of Brother Fish, I thought I had better do the right thing and write what I thought of this BryceC. It couldn't have been different! A fabulous, engaging novel. Loved the characters, and was so sad to lose them. Rooted for PJ all the way and grew with him. Totally absorbing history lesson at the same time without being hammered home. Story crafted beautifully. Hey, and I don't even like boxing - but those scenes were compelling. One of my favourite listens!
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