Posted by: biblioglobal | January 11, 2017

Mauritius: The Last Brother (Book-from-every-country #101)

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This cover captures the book very well.

Mauritius is an island country off the east coast of Africa where the majority of the population are of Indian origin, were brought there by the British colonists, and now speak primarily a French based creole. (It was a French colony before it became a British one.) So, it’s an interesting place. It was also the home of the Dodo, before it was driven extinct.

The Last Brother by Nathacha Appanah (translated from the French by Geoffrey Strachan) tells the story of the friendship between Raj, a Mauritian boy, and David, a Jewish boy living in an internment camp on the island. The book begins with Raj as an old man, so we know from the beginning that David died at the age of 10. Raj has never really gotten over his death. In fact, at the age of 70, he goes to visit David’s grave for the first time and there he relates the story of their friendship.

Their friendship is beautiful and sad. It is also brief enough that you might not think that they would have time to form such a lasting connection. But everything is set up in a way that their friendship makes perfect sense.

Before I started the book-from-every-country project, I never kept a list of books to read. I just read whatever happened to catch my attention at the library. Now, I do have a ‘TBR’ over on Goodreads. I don’t list everything there, but most of the books for this project end up on that list plus other random books that I come across are there. I’m pretty good about keeping the list to a reasonable length (though I did expand past my original intended limit of 100 books and had to increase it to 150…). What I recently realized though is that I tend to read the books that I’ve recently added to the list, but not the books back at the beginning. There are books there that have been languishing since 2012.

So for this year, I’m going to make an effort to either read those books back at the beginning of the list or else decide that I no longer want to read them. That means I will probably have a spate of African books since when I first set up that list on Goodreads I was hunting down ideas for books from African countries. It also means that I’ll be tackling some intimidating chunksters of books that in theory I want to read, but in practice I’ve been avoiding.

One is The Wizard of the Crow by Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o which clocks in at 768 pages. I’ve already read other Kenyan books, but I’ve kept this one on the list because I’ve heard such good things about it and also because he originally wrote it in Gikuyu and there just aren’t that many books out there that have been translated from African languages. The other is Dancing in the Glory of Monsters by Jason Stearns which is only 400 pages long, but will be tough reading, since it’s a history of the civil war in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Time for some challenging (but hopefully rewarding) reading!

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Responses

  1. I am so glad you are back! I was in Mauritius Island for our honeymoon in 2014. I must say it is a lovely place. The people are nice and warm. A place I’d like to visit again. I brought back a wooden carve dodo with me.

    Mauritius was also a dutch colony, the dutch were terribly harsh with the people and place that they extinguished all the dodos.

    If you ever had the chance, I’d recommend you visit the island, it is a lovely peaceful place.

    A book I read from Mauritius
    https://maryokekereviews.blogspot.com.es/search/label/Mauritius

    • That’s neat that you’ve been to Mauritius! BiblioBoyfriend went once, but apparently he doesn’t remember anything about it because he was too young.

      I’m ashamed to admit that I avoided reading The Rape of Sita based on the title. From your review though, I’m actually quite interested to read it.

  2. This sounds like a beautiful book. Good luck with your reading goals. I have noticed my TBR list has the same problem as yours. The longer a book has been on the list, the less likely I am to read it. If there weren’t so many books I want to read this wouldn’t happen 🙂

    • They get less shiny when they’ve been sitting there too long, I guess. And yet I know that I actually do want to read them!

  3. I enjoyed this when I read it a few years ago


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