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Publisher's Summary

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. As her story unfolds, Memory reveals that she has been convicted for the murder of her adoptive father. But did everything happen exactly as she remembers?

©2015 Petina Gappah (P)2016 W.F. Howes Ltd

Critic Reviews

"Mistress of crushing irony and acerbic humour...this is a fiercely indignant and justly cynical work." ( Sunday Times on An Elegy for Easterly)
"Gappah's lightness of touch and excellent sense of humour moderate some of the gravest moments." ( Daily Telegraph on An Elegy for Easterly)

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What listeners say about The Book of Memory

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A Really Big Task

Petinah Gappah takes on a humongous task in The Book of Memory in telling a story where assumptions, mistaken interpretation of events, cultural prejudices, forgetting what is right in the midst of challenges and tragic events leads to devastating consequences. Memory, the protagonist, is both a person and that intangible thing also called the "memory". Sometimes memory hides what is true, and without the true understanding of events creates other memories that are real and seem true memories, but without a complete understanding of events are baseless. Petinah Gappah weaves together a story based on memories, witness to events, interwoven with cultural prejudices and events that make a mockery of what is good and pure depending on how circumstances are impressed on the mind. The Book of Memory is a lesson to Memory and their memories.

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A book which will appeal to the heart and soul of anybody born in Rhodesia

I was born in Bulawayo. I first heard about this book on BBC world book. I decided to search for it on audible and was surprised to find it. After beginning the book, I found it so appealing and interesting that I could not put it down. It is seriously a book worth listening to for anybody who has any ties to Rhodesia now Zimbabwe. I especially enjoyed the narrator who captured the the pure essence of this book and the place for which it was written.

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Brilliant read that cannot be put down

I like the interesting tale, that is never predictable and surprise you at intervals. So many twists and turns and you feel so involved in the character. I would recommend this title to people who are interested in hearing about people who live in Africa and how it is to live there and be an outsider. It’s a great read that you can perhaps reread because there is extra details that can be gained later The narration is incredible it’s almost like you are taken to Africa and you can hear the sights and sounds

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Excellent! it was riveting, poignant, sad, lovely.

An excellent story! I travelled through every bit of that journey with Memory and shed a few tears with her, too. She should most definitely teach when she gets out of prison! lovely girl. well done, Petina!👏👏👏

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  • bookylady
  • 08-28-16

A slow-burner, but a real treat.

Any additional comments?

This book will haunt me for a long time. Elegant in its simplicity and spare prose style, it crept up on me with some considerable stealth. I took me a couple of hours to become totally wrapped up in its charm but by that time I realised I was listening to an expert piece of storytelling. I was caught up in the fate of Memory, the storyteller, and the host of characters that fleshed out this simple story of an albino girl caught up in a convoluted crime story in post-colonial Zimbabwe. At the heart of the story lies Memory's belief that she was sold as a young girl ,by her parents, to a rich white man. Many years later she finds herself in prison for that man's murder and her lawyer, as part of the appeal process, asks Memory to write down her story. It slowly unravels and, aided by African myths and the contribution of other characters/events in the prison, reveals the heartbreaking truth of her childhood. The denouement left me reeling with sadness and empathy for Memory.

The narration was beautifully paced and the narrator expertly blended the African and colonial voices of the piece.

A 5* read in every sense. I always feel that one of the signs of a good book is how much you invest in the characters/story and believe in them. If it leaves me wanting more and I hurry off to check out the author's back catalogue, it usually means that I have just read a great book and one that I will probably read again. I will certainly revisit this one.

6 people found this helpful

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  • antoinette
  • 12-06-16

The book of Memory

Beautiful story beautifully read....slowly slowly we discover more and more about Memory , a young woman in Africa who is also albino, imprisoned for murder.
She is innocent of the crime, but only understanding her history do we understand how she came to be there.
The truth gradually emerges, her misunderstandings put right until she finally sees and we see what has happened. why it happened and that everything was born out of love.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 05-11-20

Brilliant and engaging

Nostalgia, sadness, pain, anger, ecstasy. The writer takes you on a ride. Brilliant Story. Great Naration too, even the accent is endearing

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  • Anonymous User
  • 02-24-20

The book of memory

I enjoyed this book what a talent.i wish it was longer than how it was

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 02-10-20

Amazing Book

I would have loved the narrator to pronounce Shona Perfectly. She did not do this.

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  • Food lover
  • 02-08-20

Bravo!!

Triumphant ! Glorious ! Best book I’ve listened to a long time! Fantastically dramatised (beyond narration) by Chipo.. wow!!!

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  • Anthony
  • 11-25-17

A Book of Memory - Hardship and humour in Zimbabwe

A beautifully read, lyrical, simultaneously humorous and hard fictional story from Zimbabwe. Memory, a young albino woman, is on death row in a Zimbabwean prison. She has been accused of murdering her white, gay, adoptive father and awaits execution. Weaving to and fro, current and past, memory and fantasy, she narrates her story and that of the people with whom she interacts. Much of this novel is beautifully written, with often humorous asides, based in part on misreading accents, which in the most part are well rendered by the excellent narration. An aside on names is hilarious as is an exchange among prisoners highlighting how misinterpretation of legal processes may arise from varying accents and mispronunciation. Petina Gappah's legal background sensitively underplays the serious implications that can, and no doubt do, arise. A core theme is the experience of marginalisation - most of it portrayed through the eyes, thoughts and experiences of Memory. She is an albino girl brought up in a community seeking to make sense of, and explain, misfortune. It is a story of 'othering' and of resilience and of the challenge of personal agency in ever-changing circumstances. Memory cannot let go of the day that determined the rest of her life... It started with an unusual trip to the town together, rare in itself, followed by treat after treat - whatever and however many ice-creams she wanted. This was followed by meeting a while man, seeing him pass a wad of notes to her parents, and watching her mother grab and stuff them into her bra. It ended with her parents walking away, and Memory left in the company of a white man who absorbs her into his well-off life. Like many in the community, the reader wonders how this came about, and ponders the relationship between Memory and Lloyd... Accused of killing her adoptive father (an injustice), Memory relives segments of her life and what we thought we saw becomes increasingly fuzzy. Zimbabwe - a most beautiful but troubled land - is evocatively presented. Without overemphasising corruption or dictatorship, they lurk in the background shaping the day-to-day hard lives of people. The story, however, focuses on how these lives intersect, justice and truth are pursued, and how memory and recollection intervene.

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  • Renata
  • 06-15-17

beautiful

Would you listen to The Book of Memory again? Why?

yes, its beautifully narrated and the story can be retold without losing its power

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Book of Memory?

the end, but all of it really

What does Chipo Chung bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

the feel of the place, the language, the pronunciation

Any additional comments?

read or listen it is beautiful but emotional book

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  • P. Egan-wyer
  • 06-14-17

Stunning narration

The narrator really brought this excellent story to life. It was well written and had a plausible storyline. I highly recommend it!

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  • Miss Vox
  • 01-29-17

Very different from my usual reads

I think if I actually had to read this book is would have struggled to finish it. but the narrator made this book come to life.
interesting story line and enjoyed the general feel of the book.
I would recommend this book to readers who especially love culture.

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  • Natasha
  • 05-08-16

Best book I've listened to for ages

I loved the weaving of the past and present to a poignant end. So well narrated, i didn't want the book to finish.