The Book of Memory


In a death row jail cell in Harare, Zimbabwe, a young albino woman named Memory begins to record her life story. Charged with the murder of Lloyd Hendricks -- her wealthy, white adoptive father -- Memory tells a tale of heartbreak and upheaval:  growing up poor in a local township, grieving for the deaths of several siblings, struggling to adjust to her new life with Lloyd, and slowly coming to understand his motivations for adopting her.

Written in beautiful prose that almost crackles with intensity, The Book of Memory follows a young woman grappling with a cruel fate.

"You will discover as you walk around the city that it was planned to keep the direct heat of the sun away from the faces of white people.  In the mornings, they left the northern suburbs to go into town to work, and the sun was behind them, and in the evenings, when they went back home, the sun was behind them still.  The streets of the northern suburbs are lined with avenues of jacarandas and flamboyants that give cooling shade.  But in the townships, the sun is always in the faces of the people.  And there are no tree-lined avenues, no cool grass beneath the feet, only the hard heat of the dusty streets."

Petina Gappah is the author of the short story collection An Elegy for Easterly and the novel The Book of Memory.  She was born in Zambia and moved with her family to Zimbabwe as a child.

Published:  2015
Length:  276 pages
Set in:  Harare, Zimbabwe