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Download African Laughter: Four Visits To Zimbabwe epub

by Doris LESSING

Physical description; xii, 442 pages : 1 map ; 25 cm. Subjects; Lessing, Doris 1919-2013. Lessing, Doris May 1919- - Journeys - Zimbabwe. Lessing, Doris 1919-2013 - Travel - Zimbabwe.
Download African Laughter: Four Visits To Zimbabwe epub
ISBN: 0002550199
ISBN13: 978-0002550192
Category: Reference
Subcategory: Writing Research & Publishing Guides
Author: Doris LESSING
Language: English
Publisher: Harper Collins; First Edition edition (1992)
Pages: 416 pages
ePUB size: 1480 kb
FB2 size: 1299 kb
Rating: 4.4
Votes: 117
Other Formats: lit txt azw lrf

Three stars is probably pushing it a bit. I gave it three because it had a lot of very interesting information about Zimbabwe. However, I found the writing in quite a number of places to be sufficiently "disjointed" as to require that I go back and re-read the text to try to figure out what was meant--and many times it was never clear, even taking into account the English (vs. American) writer. (My husband is from England, so I'm pretty clued in to a lot of the differences in their ways of speaking, different words, etc.)

In my opinion, writing should be smooth and easy enough to understand (at every level of writing). Sentences do not have to be "complete", but should be comprehensible. Paragraphs should have subjects which relate to one another. Retrospective thinking should be clearly retrospective and not "now". Quite a number of issues here.

But I thank the author for the information imparted (keeping in mind that she makes it very clear that it is all her own perspective).
A well known writer returns to her home country, formerly Southern Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe. I enjoyed the book as she compares what was and what happened post independence. A great writer told some great stories from the white and black perspective. Sadly, the book is decades out of date. The awful things that could never happen...happened. As a moment in time it fascinates but it has little current relevance. A reader who has great interest in the transition from colonial to early independence might find it interesting. It has little to do with the modern day country.
Doris Lessing paints an intriguing picture of life in South Rhodesia as she experienced it during her childhood and later discovered as she travels through her former homeland, now known as Zimbabwe. Lessing brings both an insider's and an outsider's perspective as she reflects on the changes experienced in South African as it moved from being a British colony to a new struggling socialist African nation.
A bitter-sweet (mostly bitter) memoir of Lessing's return to the country of her childhood. Formerly Southern Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe, the country is a disaster: the bush has been destroyed, the animals are gone, the government is corrupt and cruel. I'm not sure where the title comes from because no one is laughing in this book, especially the readers. I found it tedious and repetitious.
What little Westerners know of African history, and most of it slanted from pure ivory towers. This is a truly engrossing study by an insider of the struggles, the courage, the heartbreak, not just of Zimbabwe but of surrounding cities and people's--white and black. You have to laugh not to weep.
So much great information and descriptions of life in Rhodesia/Zimbabwe. Regrettably, I began to skim read this novel as it was boring. Still the information of the culture clash, politics and corruption between the white and black Africans is quite informative.
When Cecil Rhodes established Rhodesia (after his name) in the south of Africa in the 19th century, he was mighty proud to make an addition to the British Empire. He encouraged other developing countries to join the Empire saying proudly: " I contend that we the Anglo Saxons are the finest race in the world and the more of the world we inhabit the better it is for the human race". It did not occur to Mr. Rhodes, ( then the richest man in the world), that the blacks might become more nationalistic and a dictator called Mugabe might rise to sabotage his dreams. Sooner than expected Mugabe won free elections, Rhodesia became Zimbabwe and the first thing he did was to expel the white British farmers out.

Of course, Mugabe, unlike Rhodes, wanted what is good for his own people. Yet many of his actions backfired. Inflation sky rocketed, the value of the local currency, the Zim Dollar, went down to near zero, corruption jumped to its highest level and poverty escalated with more than 70% of the population below the minimum level. Critics asked the logical question: Could not Mugabe have avoided all this by compromising with the white farmers, the dynamic sector of the economy, instead of alienating them?

Lessing's book is about nostalgia. After all she grew up in the good old days before Mugabe and had fond memories of the beauty of the country and her expat friends. After she left at thirty to live and work in the UK she was shocked to hear about the depressing developments back "home". With much struggle with the black authorities (they treated me like a prohibited immigrant!) she was given a limited permit to visit and observe the new country for herself. Surprisingly, instead of taking a harsh attitude toward the new black government, she tried to be understanding about a nation struggling to stand on its own feet. She was critical yet conciliatory. She talked to the blacks and to the remaining whites to understand how they feel about the new life. Needless to say, she was shocked at the inefficiencies of the black government, the discomfort among the people and the increasing poverty among those already living in misery. She tried to be objective but was saddened by what she saw - the country was really in disarray. If, as they say, nostalgia is bitter sweet, she certainly saw more of the bitter. Yet, a strong nostalgic desire drove her to return again and again.

Lessing's book is an interesting account particularly to readers like this reviewer who lived and worked in East Africa (British Somaliland) with British expatriates for over four years. It certainly brings back many fond memories. But, sadly, those were declining days for the Great British Empire. Had Cecil Rhodes been alive at the time he would have surely been highly disappointed.

Interestingly, the structure of the book is rather unusual particularly in the second half where it reads more like a diary or a collection of ideas, anecdotes, events...all seemingly disconnected and occasionally even unrelated. It is left to the reader to try to find a theme or a unifying idea. And the book title?! "African Laughter"?! One can hardly find anything humorous in this book; if anything it is deadly serious with tragic undertones.
Tremendous mastery of description! I would highly recommend this to anyone who enjoys being riveted and transported in time and place by the written word. Engages the imagination in ways that are impossible in cinema.