The Zanzibar chest : the story of life, love, and death in foreign lands /
Aidan Hartley.
New York : Atlantic Monthly Press, c2003.
414 p. : ill.
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New York : Atlantic Monthly Press, c2003.
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Appeared in Library Journal on 2003-03-15:
Weary of the atrocities he has witnessed over the last decade, the African-born Hartley revives when he discovers an elaborately carved chest containing the diaries of his father's best friend, who fell in love with an Arabian princess. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Appeared in Publishers Weekly on 2003-04-07:
Toward the end of this mesmerizing chronicle, Hartley writes simply of Rwanda, "Like everything in Africa, the truth [is] somewhere in between." Hartley appreciates this complexity, mining the accounts that constitute his book not for the palliative but for the redemptive. Born in 1965 in Kenya into a long lineage of African colonialists, Hartley feels, like his father whose story he also traces, a magnetic, almost inexplicable pull to remain in Africa. Hartley's father imports modernity to the continent (promoting irrigation systems and sophisticated husbandry); later, Hartley himself "exports" Africa as a foreign correspondent for Reuters. Both men struggle to find moral imperatives as "foreigners" native to a continent still emerging from colonialism. Hartley's father concludes, "We should never have come here," and Hartley himself appears understandably beleaguered by the horrors he witnesses (and which he describes impressively) covering Ethiopia, Somalia and Rwanda. Emotionally shattered by the genocide in the latter ("Rwanda sits like a tumour leaking poison into the back of my head"), the journalist returns to his family home in Kenya, where he happens upon the diary of Peter Davey, his father's best friend, in the chest of the book's title. Hartley travels to the Arabian Peninsula to trace Davey's mysterious death in 1947, a story he weaves into the rest of his narrative. The account of Davey, while the least engaging portion of the book, provides Hartley with a perspective for grappling with the legacy that haunts him. This book is a sweeping, poetic homage to Africa, a continent made vivid by Hartley's capable, stunning prose. B&w photos not seen by PW. (July) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
This item was reviewed in:
Kirkus Reviews,
Library Journal, March 2003
Publishers Weekly, April 2003
Booklist, July 2003
New York Times Book Review, August 2003
New York Times Book Review, January 2005
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Table of Contents
Beyond the Rivers of Ethiopiap. 3
Take Me Home to Mamap. 13
Journalist Plus Plusp. 71
The Zanzibar Chestp. 133
Feeding the Beastp. 155
Going Nativep. 225
The Sound of Freedom in the Airp. 259
Empty Quarterp. 305
Lazarusp. 323
One Moment, of the Well of Life to Tastep. 383
Herogramsp. 393
Postscriptp. 411
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

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