DAY 58: THE POISONWOOD BIBLE

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Another terror attack, this time in the Malian city of Bamako.

I realize that I’ve never read a novel about Bamako or set in Mali, and in fact there is very little Malian literature. If you do a bit of research, there are some intriguing books about

Thinking about Africa, I also came to realize that I haven’t read many books about it. A few that come to mind off hand: Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, Paul Theroux’s Dark Star Safari (followed recently by The Last Train to Zona Verde: Overland from Cape Town to Angola, which I haven’t read yet), Karen Blixen’s Out of Africa, and Barbara Kingsolver’s Poisonwood Bible which is set during the Congo’s fight for independence from Belgium. It tells the story of the family of an increasingly insane evangelical Baptist, who find themselves at the center of the maelstrom of history. Kingsolver herself spent two years in Congo as a child.

“I understood the way we lived in my little corner of Kentucky was just that, one little corner where we had certain things we did, possessed, believed in, but there was a great big world out there where people had no use for many of the things my community held dear. I came home with an acutely heightened sense of race, of ethnicity. I got to live in a place where people thought I was noticeable and probably hideous because of the color of my skin. These weren’t easy lessons, but they were priceless.
     I’m extremely interested in cultural difference, in social and political history and the sparks that fly when people with different ways of looking at the world come together and need to reconcile or move through or celebrate those differences. All that precisely describes everything I’ve ever written.”

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