Abyssinian Chronicles

Isegawa, Moses

Published by Picador
ISBN 10: 0330485903 / ISBN 13: 9780330485906
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Synopsis: Set in a tribal village during the years of the Idi Amin terror in Uganda, Abyssinian Chronicles takes us into the heart of Africa, vividly immersing us in the mesmerizing extremes of beauty and brutality, wisdom and ignorance, wealth and poverty, hope and despair that define the continent today. We come to intimately know an extended family rich in centuries-old tradition, and follow the unsentimental education of the boy who takes it all in, who learns, observes and teaches, and starts to feel the very earth moving under the African experience and the people he loves.

Review: In his hugely impressive Abyssinian Chronicles Moses Isegawa renders the chaotic swirl of life in Uganda, from a lazy, remote village to the urban rush of Kampala. Containing within its 460 pages weddings, funerals, infidelities, public struggles with corrupt dictatorships (a section called "Amin, the Godfather"), and private struggles with God ("Seminary Years"), this is a first novel of epic ambitions. Narrated by Mugezi, the son of a man named Serenity and a woman named Padlock, Isegawa's book is wild and decentered, moving swiftly and confidently from place to place, from character to character. It is the kind of book that says, just follow, trust me, all these names and passions will sort themselves out and make sense sooner or later.

The prose itself bristles and cooks, with graceful transitions ("This time a year passed without hearing any news from Tiida") and scenes lurching with activity. Isegawa, who was born in Uganda but now lives in the Netherlands, is a master of unexpected verbs and details. Here Mugezi describes his mother's voice:

This woman knew how to irritate me on all fronts: her pathetic country-western girlie whine, xeroxed from a white nun from her convent days, the same nun from whom she had inherited the little tremolos which she sprinkled piously on the last hymn every night, really got to me.
Inconsistencies in the narrator's point of view can mar this novel and arrest its progress. The narrator will suddenly describe interior states he couldn't possibly know about: his mother's depression and loneliness, which she hides from everyone, the deepest thoughts of distant relatives. But for readers hoping to glimpse a foreign world, these bumps in the road are worth the ride. --Ellen Williams

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Abyssinian Chronicles
Publisher: Picador
Binding: Paperback
Book Condition: Good

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Isegawa, Moses
Published by Picador (2001)
ISBN 10: 0330485903 ISBN 13: 9780330485906
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Book Description Picador, 2001. Book Condition: Fair. Ships from the UK. Former Library book. Shows definite wear, and perhaps considerable marking on inside. Bookseller Inventory # GRP94381004

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Book Description Book Condition: good. 259 Gramm. Bookseller Inventory # M00330485903-G

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Isegawa, Moses:
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Book Description Picador, 2001. Taschenbuch. Book Condition: Gut. 493 Seiten Das Buch befindet sich in einem ordentlich erhaltenen Zustand. In ENGLISCHER Sprache. Sprache: Englisch Gewicht in Gramm: 290. Bookseller Inventory # 1117480

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