15 Following


I read widely and in most genres but romance and westerns. Here you'll find my reviews since 2007, with a few reviews of previously read books as well.


In 2012, I completed an "authors of the world" challenge, reading a book for every country (and a few other entities) by someone who'd lived there for at least two years. I expect to tag these books by challenge and country in the near future. I'm still refining my list by adding books that better meet my challenge criteria.

The Abandoned Baobab: The Autobiography of a Senegalese Woman - Ken Bugul,  Marjolijn De Jager,  Marjolijn De Jaeger (Translator),  Jeanne M. Garane (Introduction) Senegal. Without at all intending to diminish the importance of post-colonialism as a destroyer of group and individual identity in this disconnected, often anguished memoir, there appears to be more going on than that. Whether her account is accurate or heightened for literary purposes, Bugul would seem to have a personality disorder as well as cultural disruption and dissonance. Certainly both forms of alienation and fragmented identity could co-occur and heighten each other. Her behavior and emotions are so extreme and self-harmful that, rather than being wrenched by the conflicts of post-colonial existence, the reader may simply see Bugul as dangerous to be close to.Bugul uses symbolism and returns to pivotal events that are reductive and serve more as emblems than explanations. The style is poetic but the descriptions and assertions are often ultimately incoherent. As an artifact of drug abuse and emotional splintering, it's vivid. Ultimately, though, African writers such as Alain Mabanckou, Abdourahman A. Waberi, and Donato Ndongo express themselves more effectively in similar styles. Granted, Mabanckou and Waberi are also sardonic and poke fun at themselves, so there is an ironic distance. Bugul's anger and apparent disorientation may not provide sufficient separation from the subject for her to craft an effective narrative.