Publisher: Random House Canada
ISBN: 978-0-307-35915-5 (0-307-35915-8)
Pub Date: September 13, 2011
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In this tour-de-force sequel to Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight, Alexandra Fuller returns to Africa with the story of her unforgettable family.
In Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness Alexandra Fuller braids a multi-layered narrative around the Happy Valley-era Africa of her mother's childhood; the grimness of her father's English childhood; and the darker, civil war-torn Africa of her own childhood. Born on the Scottish Isle of Skye and raised in Kenya, Nicola Fuller holds dear the kinds of values most likely to get you hurt or killed in Africa: loyalty to blood, passion for land and a holy belief in the restorative power of all animals.
Fuller captures her mother's distinctive voice with remarkable precision, rendering a life story that is as funny, terrifying, exotic and unselfconscious as Nicola herself. We see Nicola and Tim Fuller in their honeymoon period, when East Africa lies before them with all the promise of its liquid equatorial light, even as the British Empire wanes. But in short order, an accumulation of mishaps and tragedies bump up against history until the couple find themselves in a world they hardly recognize. We follow the Fullers as they run from war and unspeakable heartbreak, from Kenya to Rhodesia to Zambia, even returning to England briefly. But just when it seems that Nicola has been broken entirely by Africa, it is the African earth itself that revives her.
In the end we find Nicola and Tim at a coffee table under their Tree of Forgetfulness on the banana and fish farm where they plan to spend their final days. In local custom, the Tree is where villagers meet to resolve disputes--and it is here that the Fullers at last find an African kind of peace. Following the ghosts and dreams of memory, Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness is Alexandra Fuller at her very best.
From the Hardcover edition.
A New York Times Notable Book
“[An] electrifying new memoir. . . . Writing in shimmering, musical prose, Ms. Fuller creates portraits of her mother, father and various eccentric relatives that are as indelible and resonant as the family portraits in classic contemporary memoirs like Mary Karr’s Liars’ Club and Andre Aciman’s Out of Egypt.”
—Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
“Rewarding. . . . A love story to Africa and her family. She plumbs her family story with humor, memory, old photographs and a no-nonsense attitude toward family foibles, follies and tragedy. The reader is rewarded with an intimate family story played out against an extraordinary landscape, told with remarkable grace and style.”
—Star Tribune (Minneapolis)
“Another stunner. . . . Alexandra Fuller, master memoirist, brings her readers new pleasure.”
—The Plain Dealer (Cleveland)
“Gracefully recounted using family recollections and photos, the author plumbs the narrative with a humane and clear-eyed gaze—a lush story, largely lived within a remarkable place and time.”
“Fuller achieves another beautifully wrought memoir.”
“Fuller’s prose is so beautiful and so evocative that readers will feel that they, too, are sitting under [the Tree of Forgetfulness]. A gorgeous tribute to both her parents and the land they love.”
Praise for Alexandra Fuller:
“Fuller is a brave writer who pushes the boundaries of her genre.”
“A classic is born in this tender, intensely moving and even delightful journey [Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight]. . . Fuller’s book has the promise of being widely read and remaining of interest for years to come.”
— Publishers Weekly
ALEXANDRA FULLER was born in England in 1969. She moved to Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) with her family when she was two. After that country's war of independence (1980) her family moved first to Malawi and then to Zambia where she met her husband. Fuller received a BA from Acadia University in Nova Scotia, and in 2007 she received an honorary doctorate in letters from that institution. In 1994, she move to the United States. She now lives in Wyoming with her husband, two daughters and son.
From the Hardcover edition.
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