I really, really, really wanted to be a very constant member of the Accra Book Club, but somehow R’s illness, and my feelings of obligation, rather stopped that from happening as I would have theoretically wished. But I did and do usually buy the books and read them more or less at the right time, and wish for a few evenings that I could have joined other members to eat and hear their views on what we had just read – fully, partly or not even at all.
Given that R is pretty hostile to me these days, and that I don’t actually do anything to help or support him when I come home, I figuredthat I might as well go to the next gathering – which would be taking place sometime during the first week of December. The book under discussion was originally planned for October, Emma’s war, by Deborah Scroggins. I’d started it, so didn’t expect to say much about it, though it is well written, and does give a lot of background on the Sudan, which for various reasons is quite a “popular” location this year for readings for this book club. [The ABC also read Dave Eggers, What is the what, earlier this year. I found the bits in the US more moving somehow than the scenes in the Sudan. Maybe the latter were simply too horrible?] I remember hearing about Emma at some point – must have been through the BBC or through UK newspapers and magazines available British Council in Kumasi.
I find reading non-fiction does take more effort, maybe because I actually have to read more, rather than merely skim to enjoy the flow and the plot. So I do have to apply myself over the next few days.
The November book for the ABC was originally going to be Alaa al Aswany’s The Yacoubian building , which I was to lead on, but that has been postponed till the new year, I think. I did finish it, and enjoyed it. I suspect that the language would have had more impact in its original Arabic, but it was still readable, at times amusing, and at times moving. I can understand – to an extent that an outsider can – just how controversial this novel was and is in Egypt. To describe corruption, homosexual relationships and sexual harassment of women in such straightforward terms must have really had an impact on Egyptian society, which is quite heavily controlled by the state, though in comparison to other Middle Eastern states, it might be considered to be quite “liberal” in terms of societal mores. That the author is not only Egyptian, but living and working in Egypt, makes it even more interesting. I wonder how the other readers will have reacted to it.