Thursday Book Review: “The Great Agony and Pure Laughter of the Gods”

Today’s featured book is one of our most recent fiction releases from Penguin Random House South Africa: The Great Agony and Pure Laughter of the Gods by Jamala Safari. This heart-wrenching novel is based on real experiences. Keep reading to see what reviewers think of this book. 


Book Review: The Great Agony and Pure Laughter of the Gods

Ruth Brown | Counter-cultures in contemporary Africa

“Shortlisted for the Citizen Book Prize in 2011, this book bears the weight of its dark words well. It explores the forced violence and violation of becoming Kadogo, child soldiers, bludgeoned into fearlessness and an absolute lack of empathy.”

“The greatest triumph of this story is that Safari dedicates so much time to the painful aftershocks of Risto’s trauma. His actions, his loss, and his fear follow Risto wherever he goes, shadowing him like a malicious watcher.”

“This is writing that grows out of poetry, and deserves to be read as such, even as the pathos of Risto’s pilgrimage deserves to be recognised as something more than entertainment.”

View the full review here>>>

The Great Agony and Pure Laughter of the Gods by Jamala Safari

 Friederike Bubenzer | Random Reads Blog

“Having now turned the final pages of the book and having had the time to reflect on this fine piece of African writing, what strikes me most about what I have read, are the carefully constructed descriptions of the impact of war on the very fibre of its’ victims and perpetrators. Safari crafts a vivid portrayal of the transition from victim to perpetrator which I found very evocative and thought provoking and which has highlighted to me, again, the complexity of the ongoing conflict in the DRC.”

“A nimble crafter of an eloquent narrative, Safari uses visual analogies to make his plot come wonderfully alive.”

“I was struck, more than once, by the sad reality that I was not reading about something that is, as yet, in the past.”

“This is a rewarding and important read of a brave journey that is increasingly common across Africa and which brings us a little closer to understanding this troubled but hopeful nation.”

Read the full review here>>>

Reviewed: The Great Agony and Pure Laughter of the Gods by Jamala Safari

Michele Magwood | Books Live

“We all know that literature has the power to change minds, if not the world, to open eyes and hearts and through understanding, create empathy. The Great Agony is such a book, one that cracks open the issue of refugees and asylum seekers, and at a time when the coals of xenophobia are once again being fanned in South Africa, it is an important one.”

“The Great Agony is a deeply affecting, but in the end uplifting story, and you will find the headlines about the current upheaval in DRC, the conditions of refugee camps in Africa and the spurts of violence against foreigners, take on a new meaning.”

Read the full review here>>>


About the Book

9781415201763Risto Mahuno’s agony is what happens to his sweetheart Néné, to his cousin, and to himself. In the east of the Congo, where the border with Rwanda is also the border between life and death, the boys are abducted and forced to become soldiers, the girls raped. Far too much happens for 15-year-old children. Néné is claimed by the warlord, Risto’s cousin killed, and Risto, his eyes already dead, is beaten to the brink. His fate flings him south, on a fraught journey by foot or whatever ride he can get, to Mozambique, where he arrives with even less of himself left. And yet the gods are laughing, for Risto’s journey back holds promise of love, peace and family. Risto’s story is based on real experiences.

Purchase your copy here>>>

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