kigali and tristan da cunha

last week i pulled parade magazine out of the sunday paper, and while i usually find the experience of reading parade to be nothing more than an eye-rolling seesion, that issue actually had a good book list of novels about africa.  a ways back i mentioned that omar and i read several books on genocide, particularly ones on the rwandan genocide.  the description of baking cakes in kigali by gaile parkin grabbed me and a few days later i’d finished the book.

the book centers around a tanzanian woman, angel, who lives in kigali, rwanda, with her husband and five grandchildren.  angel has her own cake baking business and she is somewhat of the community advice-giving sage.  in the book it has been six years since the genocide and the story touches on the lives affected and the reconciliation happening in the country.  

it was an entertaining book that was much lighter than what i thought it would be. perhaps too light?  i think parkin tries to address too many of the issues that are affecting africa today – AIDS, female circumcision, genocide, foreign workers/aid, etc. and she touches on them in such a cursory way that at times it can seem trite.

but it was an entertaining read that often made me smile, and after reading such heavy books on the topic, it was good reading one woman’s take on the years following such a horrific event.

and then parade gets me again this week.  did you know about the world’s most isolated inhabited island – tristan da cunha?  me neither.  parade wins some more points for me for letting me know about this.  quite an interesting history and the 270 inhabitants all share one of the seven original surnames from the 19th century settlers.  and as a result many share a bad case of hereditary asthma. fascinating.


4 thoughts on “kigali and tristan da cunha

  1. Eh! I just finished this book.

    Did you like it? I found it a little repetitive (we got it… the tea is milky and has cardamom in it), but readable nonetheless.

    A Guide to the Birds of East Africa is sort of in the same ballpark, and much more engaging, in my opinion. You should check it out at some point.

  2. ellie – ha! so true about the milky tea part. i enjoyed a lot of it and it was a quick read. definitely readable but not so memorable. thanks for the book suggestion.

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