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Abyssinian Chronicles Paperback – 10 Aug 2001

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Product details

  • Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Picador; New Ed edition (10 Aug. 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0330376659
  • ISBN-13: 978-0330376655
  • Product Dimensions: 13.3 x 2.8 x 20.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 148,591 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Amazon 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 decentred, 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, Amazon.com

Review

‘Vibrant and sombre, Abyssinian Chronicles seamlessly integrates positive, workaday Ugandan lives with Amin’s murderous regime . . . sharp and bitterly funny storytelling’ Independent

‘Vibrant and sombre, Abyssinian Chronicles seamlessly integrates positive, workaday Ugandan lives with Amin’s murderous regime . . . sharp and bitterly funny storytelling’ Independent

‘Precious few first novels are as phantasmagoric or as haunting as this one’ Time

‘Bewitching . . . a spectacular debut, and one which makes a significant contribution to the literature of Africa’ Observer

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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 28 Nov. 2001
Format: Paperback
Abyssinian Chronicles by Moses Isegawa is an utterly captivating novel about life in Uganda before, during and after the atrocities and confusion of Idi Amin's reign. Mugezi, the central character, narrates his life, ruled by his own personal 'despots' (his parents) who like the rest of the other colourful and believable characters in the book, find themselves vividly illustrated by the imaginative nicknames with which they are described.
At times I laughed out loud only to find myself moved and disturbed by the immense feelings the author pours out on the following page. This is one of the few books I tried to read in one sitting. The poignancy of Mugezi's struggle and that of those around him to find meaning to their lives, illuminates Isegawa's ability to bring to life such a powerful story, this book will make him a name to look out for in the future.
Why is it called 'Abyssinian Chronicles' - read for yourself and understand the links between ambitions, dreams, desires and the brutal realities that have shaped part of Africa's recent history.
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By A Customer on 19 Jan. 2001
Format: Hardcover
This is one book you won't be able to put down. I was attracted to it by the comaprisons with Garcia Marquez and Salman Rushdie, as well as the desire to learn something about a corner of the world I knew nothing about. We follow the life of an Ugandan boy,from his serene childhood in the village, under the benevolent spell of his midwife Grandma, to the hardships of the city, where he has to stand to the despotic tirancy of his parents, to the seminary which is forced upon him and where again he discovers the familiar signs of despotism and irrational repression....his political conscience is born in the heart of the family, and as his childhood ends he awakens to the agony and desperation of a country on the brink of collpase. The change of focus, from domestic violence to civil war, is natural and expected, and it strikes me how the author provides such a powerful angle to the ruthless atrocities and mindless regime by making them just an extension of individual and "familiar" structures. Moses Isegawa's writing is fascinating: multi-layered, funny and vivid, with a wonderful and almost "physical" capacity of evocating smells, colours, faces and sounds. Having now reached the final pages, I can say that the comparisons raised are just appropriate to Isegawa's novel. This book fills my heart, makes me think, makes me want to ask for more...one of the best reads of this year.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Hathaway on 28 April 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A wonderful read. Really takes you there, and gives you a much better understanding of Uganda.
If you are travelling there, it's a must.
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