I suppose NoViolelt Bulawayo’s new book, Glory, is a satire of sorts or perhaps an allegory. (It’s NOT Animal Farm). Glory starts out at a celebration for Old Horse, the “father of the nation,” who had, in 2017, ruled Bulawayo for almost 4 decades. The military who accompany him are known as the Defenders; they’re dogs. Other characters are goats and chickens etc but I think that serves mostly to distance the reader from the events of the book rather than to give meaning.
By Violet Bulawayo 2022
Read by Chipo Chung 16h 10m
Rating: 9.25 / political satire
(I finished this back in January!)
Bulawayo was planning a nonfiction book about Zimbabwe and Robert Mugabe but found that political satire would suit her purposes better. As satire it sometimes works, but it’s very difficult to laugh at something so tragic -there are very funny bits but those are in the beginnings of the book.
The story actually takes place very generally during the presidency of “Crocodile” of Zimbabwe from 2017 until today (2021) . Prior to Mnangagwa, Robert Mugabe was “President” with Mnangagwa as Vice President. This lasted for almost 4 decades and then Old Horse seems to want “Dr. Sweet Mother” to be Vice President possibly to succeed him as President. This results in a. Military coup and the return of “Crocodile.”
The plot line in the book tells the story of Destiny, a writer who has returned to her home in Jidada because she knows it’s the time of revolution. Her family and friends catch her up on what has transpired.
I didn’t finish this one. I’d just read Chronicles from the Land of the Happiest People on Earth by Wole Soyinka which is also a long, heavy-handed satire about exactly the same thing i.e. post-colonial corruption. I could not face another slog through this one too. I only made it to page 90.
The thing about literary satire, is that it needs to be subtle. If not, it’s slapstick, and while that’s fun to watch in stand-up comedy, it rarely works on the page. Not for me, anyway, and I see from Goodreads that other readers were not impressed either.
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And I just read another long satire with The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida
by Shehan Karunatilaka – that was last year’s Booker Prize winner. I wasn’t all that happy with it. It’s not about corruption exactly, more about the war in Sri Lanka again. Happy reading, Lisa – have a good year. 😊