Reading The Book of Memory by Petinah Gappah

The Book of Memory is a story that weaves through the life of a Zimbabwean albino woman convicted and sentenced to death for killing her white foster father. Narrated by the albino woman Memory, she writes her life story in her diaries in an attempt to secure another appeal for her case.


The life of Memory of which the book is centred around takes the reader on a whirlwind, as the story flits between her earliest memories with her family in an an impoverished township and her new life with her white foster father in a white suburb in Harare. Filled with regret, sadness and contempt towards her parents for giving her up and her foster father for buying her from her parents, Memory explores her feelings as she writes, trying to understand the reasons that brought her to the infamous prison 'Chikurubi' in Harare.

A book with a satirical leaning, it criticises and makes fun of characters like corrupt female jailers, quirky female prisoners, politicians and privileged rich societies in Harare, giving the reader small hints of the timeline of the book and the political problems in the country.  However as appealing as it is the story also possesses a few short comings as it does not fully explore the adult life of Memory and is limited to only her understanding of how the events in her life took place.

An interesting novel and though not a very typical story, the life of  Memory gives a voice and a face to the many Albino women in Africa and is an inside look into an undermined section of people in Africa. A touching and engaging book that holds sentimental aspects towards memories, it is perfect for a relaxed evening or early morning read .

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