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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An utterly captivating read, moving, funny and revealing.
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...
Published on 28 Nov 2001

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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Interesting material but badly overwritten prose style
I've just finished Abyssinian Chronicles. Which is a bit of a relief, because I found it quite hard work. The good stuff first: it's a story that traces a couple of generations through the history of modern Uganda, with the arrival of Idi Amin and the collapse of his regime, the sequence of messy guerilla wars, the rise of AIDS and so on. The central character is...
Published on 6 Aug 2010 by Harry Rutherford


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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An utterly captivating read, moving, funny and revealing., 28 Nov 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Abyssinian Chronicles (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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, 28 April 2011
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This review is from: Abyssinian Chronicles (Paperback)
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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5.0 out of 5 stars an evocative and wonderfully written novel, 19 Jan 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Abyssinian Chronicles (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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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Interesting material but badly overwritten prose style, 6 Aug 2010
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This review is from: Abyssinian Chronicles (Paperback)
I've just finished Abyssinian Chronicles. Which is a bit of a relief, because I found it quite hard work. The good stuff first: it's a story that traces a couple of generations through the history of modern Uganda, with the arrival of Idi Amin and the collapse of his regime, the sequence of messy guerilla wars, the rise of AIDS and so on. The central character is initially brought up in a village before moving to Kampala, is from a Catholic background and is educated in a rather brutal seminary; his grandmother is a midwife; he ends up leaving Uganda to move to Holland. So there's lots of good material. And lots of striking incidents and some strong (though not generally very likeable) characters.

Despite which, after reading a hundred pages, I checked to see how long the book was and had a sinking feeling when I saw there were still 400 pages to go.

The problem is the prose style. Quite apart from a tendency to cliché, it seems like Isegawa reacts to similes the way a small child reacts to candy. Everything is like something. These similes are sometimes quite good in themselves -- he describes a priest at the seminary as having `an ego as large as a cirrhotic liver' -- but I found the overall effect distracting. And it's part of a generally over-written, shouty kind of tone the book has which I just didn't get on with; sometimes I'd get into it and be quite absorbed for twenty or thirty pages, and then some turn of phrase would snap me out of it again.

I did wonder whether it was a problem with the translation; but as far as I can tell from the title page, the book was written in English. I guess English must be the author's second language, which is pretty impressive, but doesn't alter the fact that I didn't enjoy his prose.

Here's an example of the kind of paragraph that would annoy me:

'It struck him like a bolt of lightning splitting a tree down middle: Nakibuka! Had the woman not done her best to interest him in her life? Didn't he, in his heart of hearts, desire her? Had he ever forgotten her sunny disposition, her sense of humor, the confident way she luxuriated in her femininity? The shaky roots of traditional decorum halted him with the warning that it was improper to desire his wife's relative, but the mushroom of his pent-up desire had found a weak spot in the layers of hypocritical decency and pushed into the turbulent air of truth, risk, personal satisfaction, revenge. His throttled desire and his curbed sex drive could find a second wind, a resurrection or even eternal life in the bosom of the woman who, with her touch, had accessed his past, saved it and redeemed his virility on his wedding night. Sweat cascaded down his back, his heart palpitated and fire built up in his loins.'

200 pages of this stuff would have been harmless enough, and I might have said that, despite a few flaws, it was still well worth reading; 500 pages was too much.
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2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Even the cover is emotive!, 3 Feb 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: Abyssinian Chronicles (Paperback)
My copy of Abyssinian Chronicles was stolen from the back of a car in Harare by ZANU youth, who thought the picture so provocative it must be MDC literature! I just hope they now read the book...
A masterly study
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