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The Palm-Wine Drinkard / My Life in the Bush of Ghosts [Paperback]

Amos Tutuola
3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Atlantic Books; 1st Grove Press Ed edition (15 Dec 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802133630
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802133632
  • Product Dimensions: 20.8 x 13.6 x 2.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 474,731 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

3.3 out of 5 stars
3.3 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
This debut novel by one of Africa's most celebrated authors is a compelling, and full of suspense and disbelief. I liked every chapter of it. It stretched credulity to the utmost and yet it is funny and entertaining. Other entertaining titles I enjoyed are The Usurper and Other Stories, Mango Elephants in the Sun, Triple Agent Double Cross,The old man and the medal,Nervous Conditions, Shake hands with the Devil, Disciples of Fortune
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4.0 out of 5 stars Ancient thoughts 3 May 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Amos Tutuola is a good story teller although his english is a little peculiar.
Would you like to know about the world of ghosts then you should read this book
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1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Overrated and Pretentious 5 May 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is exceedingly overrated. For a picaresque novel the characters are cardboard ciphers. Some of the events are interesting, like when the author turns into a cow, but the turgid, juvenile style and paper-thin characters become quickly wearing. If this author were not an African, his work would be reviewed far more sharply. Not being in any sense racist, I judge his offering for what it is. For those interested in the 'spiritual picaresque' I recommend instead the traditional Chinese tale of 'Monkey' which is pacier, more exciting and much better written.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.5 out of 5 stars  24 reviews
50 of 51 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommended! 7 Oct 2002
By Andrew M. Schirmer - Published on
Fairy-tales? Hah! See if your kid will go to sleep after hearing one of Tutuola's mad hallucinatory (not my word) yarns.
A seldom-discussed aspect of cultural anthropology is the metamorphosis of our fairy-tales--the imaginative currency of early youth which are passed on through family and social structures alike. In America, characters like witches, ghosts, and other creatures have their genesis in Europe, or can be traced even further back to ancient Indo-European cultures (of course, we have our own indigenous tales as well). These characters and stories have become so diluted over the years, that they've lost a lot of their original cultural meaning or relevance. What does this have to do with Amos Tutuola?
"My Life in the Bush of Ghosts" and "The Palm Wine Drinkard" are African tales in their pure unadulterated form. And they're not something you'd want to hear before bedtime! Amos Tutuola writes an English which lends the narration a wide-eyed, almost childlike voice--yet in the face of wild, horrific imagery (eg. armies of dead babies) the words are unflinching.
Tutuola is not for everybody, but for the adventurous reader I could not recommend this highly enough.
30 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How can it even be approached? 1 May 2000
By Cornelius - Published on
What an experience. Accompanying the narrator, "Father of the gods who can do everything in this world," the reader escapes the difference between real or unreal, into where the two are the same. A book like none other i've ever come near, and i am not sure what i'd do if i did. There is no explanation, no need, just a story: creatures, trees, an alive bush, walking backward deads, menacing babies - one of which explodes from a thumb, trees within which lives "Faithful mother" who is faithful to all things - alive and dead, an egg that grants all wishes, much dancing, much music... So many things. This book is required reading for especially this, but every other, generation, for all "races" of folks, a book for which there can be no substitute. Purchase it, check out your local library, whatever, just read it. Then reread it.
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The voice of the Yoruba people... 12 Dec 1997
By A Customer - Published on
Amos Tutuola died earlier this year (June), when he died he was one of the most appreciated authors of the African continent. At first he was not accepted by the African intellectualist community because his work was considered to confirm the prejudices of African literature as primitive. This book was first printed in 1952 by the english publisher 'Faber and Faber' and have with a few exceptions never been out of print since then, Dylan Thomas wrote a delighted review of the book and called the language Tutuola wrote in "young english", for Tutuola did not write in his native tounge, Yoruba, but in a very primitive form of english. Tutuola barely had any education and he has been accused of only writing down the myths and folklores of the Yoruba people, though he never claimed he made up all these stories himself. Into the tale of the Palmwinedrinkard he's woven a lot of the Yoruba folktales, these are new myths for the people of the west, which means that the stories he wrote seems new to us. The written storytelling of the african continent is still young, their storytelling tradition has always been oral, so what we're confronted with here is not only a new kind of stories that we're unfamiliar with, but also another kind of storytelling, another kind of flow, which, I'm convinced will have a major influence on future literature as the western literature of the 90's have stagnated and have not been able to produce anything new and groundbreaking in years, western literature needs new blood and african literature is one way of getting that injection. Read Amos Tutuola, read Dambrudzo Marechera, read Muhammed Mrabet (translated by Paul Bowles) and discover the beaty of the african literature...
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars As good as wine 23 Dec 1999
By Sergio Ribeiro Porto - Published on
Since 1980, when I was only 16, I have not read a book as fantastic as this one. Its pages are so dense you may even spend hours through one single paragraph in order to feel all images created by the author and taste all its delicate and, at the same time, intricate constructions. A book I will never forget.
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful tales of fantasy 21 Oct 2005
By Jude C. Cooper - Published on
Reading them evoked similarities with fairy tales of Western culture: supernatural forces, shape-shifting, "monsters," battles between good and evil, etc.

At the same time, however, I was struck at how dissimilar these stories were to any fairy tale I'd ever read, or any other tale I'd read for that matter.

There is a tone of ease to the stories, of a casual approach to danger. It is though our "heroes" understand the significance of the crises they face, but they throw off the challenges with a shrug, since in their world, the "natural" and the "supernatural" interact all of the time b/c they live in close proximity with one another. After all, what's the worst that could happen? Death, in both of these stories, is a relative term at best, and is usually correctible.

This casual approach gives the stories a freer feeling of adventure, and allows one to accept anything that happens in these stories, no matter how wild it gets, since Tutuola's imagination in these stories is by turns hilarious, psychedelic, grotesque, and even frightening, but at all times unique.

At the same time, one gets a small taste of the mysticism, culture, and psychology of the West African Yoruba, from which Tutuola in part derives his tales. That taste filled me with a feeling of an entirely different world, one about which I knew nothing, but at the same time, one to which I could relate, as Tutuola's themes of redemption and devotion are common to us all.

The results are two stories that I adored, with no reservations whatsoever. They are simply two of the most wonderful stories I've ever read. As far as children are concerned, while these stories are violent and could certainly inspire nightmares, I intend to challenge my daughter with these stories as soon as she's able to understand what I'm saying, because I think she'll find them just as exciting and adventurous as her old man does.

Without question one of the best books of the 20th century. I can't recommend it more.
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