Glory by Noviolet Bulawayo

Glory is my third book from this year’s Booker Prize shortlist. I’ve read and reviewed two others so far: Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan and Oh, William! by Elizabeth Strout. Spoiler alert! My favorite is still Small Things Like These.

In fact, as far as Glory goes, you’re own your own. It was too much for me. I didn’t get very far at all, just over 50 pages before giving up.

Maybe the lack of solid character interaction was problematic for me. The book is very political. Large sections are speeches or comments on speeches or summaries of years of action. I kept waiting for the book to land on a set of characters and their stories. Glory has been billed as a Zimbabwean Animal Farm. Count me as a fan of Animal Farm by the way. Glory concerns an African nation, long after its revolution, that consists of different animals who talk and act like humans, much as they did in Animal Farm. Maybe I’m not familiar enough with the history of Zimbabwe on which Glory is based, but I had the nagging feeling that I wasn’t getting the jokes.

There are elements of magical realism in Glory, which will bother some readers, but that was not my problem. I’ve enjoyed magical realism in other African novels I have read. I loved Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o‘s Wizard of the Crow for example. That one had magical realism, was about politics, even featured a few speeches as I recall–but I loved it though I’ll bet I didn’t get half the jokes.

Anyway, I can’t speak to Glory one way or another in fairness since I didn’t finish it. If you’re curious, I’d be happy to media mail you my copy, if you’re in the U.S. Send your address along… Otherwise, it goes to the neighborhood little free library with all my best wishes.

I have one more Booker nominee on order, Percival Everett’s The Trees. I’m hoping it will arrive later today or tomorrow so there will be snowball’s chance I can read and review it before the winner is announced on the 17th. This puts me at two for three with this year’s Booker nominees. One I didn’t finish, and two that I will put on my personal best books of 2022 list.

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