Ellen Banda-Aaku: Patchwork



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O anywhere It was like a long descriptive essay But not a story that you could sink your teeth into or get immersed in I ll certainly look out for her next book though This book is well written and gives a good picture of life in Zambia across social classes The story is not an uplifting one none of the characters are at all likeable and the author doesn t resolve the dilemmas by the end of the bookSo why did I read it apart from ust because I wanted a book from Zambia for my World TourBecause it really is good a page turner Reinventores just not one to make you laugh This little book is excellent but don t be fooled by the brief page count it takes time than you might expect Pumpkin is a 9 year old girl growing up between two households competing for her father s attention dealing with her mother s alcoholism and her stepmother s disregard And because she s growing up in Zambia in the 1970s there s some violence from across the border as well Then flash forward to her as a grown woman she thinks she s made peace with her parents but the scars from her childhood continue to distort her life I found this book very engaging with a writing style that soon immerses the reader in the story and makes it easy to relate to Pumpkin and her experiences The characters are believable without having to be explained the protagonist especially Pumpkin often behaves poorly as both a child and an adult but after accompanying her through some experiences that though relayed in an understated fashion are pretty traumatic for a child we can understand why Often in fiction characters who have been damaged in some way will isolate themselves but in my experience Pumpkin s story is common she s desperately grasping for relationships even as her mistrustfulness causes her to sabotage them Meanwhile I appreciate the author s craft here each chapter has its own arc with a beginning middle and end though this is certainly a novel several chapters are self contained enough to work as short stories The writing is good and very readable and the details are vivid and bring the scenes to life I do wish the publisher had invested a bit in a copyeditor as there were a couple of unnecessarily confusing moments I didn t realize till near the end that BanaBee is Bee s mother for instance But the publisher s biggest mistake here is that they apparently haven t marketed this book at all Which is a shame because I suspect it would appeal to a wide audience I would recommend this to English speaking readers who haven t read much from Africa or to anyone looking for an engaging character study I finished this last week but had to sit on it a while For my Read Around The World bookclub we travelled to Zambia this month and this is the story of Pumpkin who we meet as a child living with her single mom Mistress to someone of standing Pumpkins father The book stood out most for its two abrupt changes of narrative in the middle and then at the end Still the overwhelming feeling I have is that I am glad that I read it Glad I read a different story of someone whose life is different and yet relatable This whole reading around the world project is breaking me open in a way that s hard to describe Even if I don t like the book we chose I still feel I am coming to understandust how big this planet is How different we all are and yet at our core we all ust want a home to love and be loved to be safe looked after and yet we do not get on with each other readaroundtheworldbookclub. Ork of the life she was born into Beautifully constructed warm and wise this is a novel that will transport the reader to a world in which we can all become of the sum of our par.

Of those books that i found hard to put down i love reading about other cultures and what makes people tick i love the name of the book as it clearly comes through in the story there were uite a few mistakes in the book which wasn t cool but at least i enjoyed the story not a prize awarding book but all in all worth reading Set in Zambia Patchwork tells the poignant story of Pumpkin a bastard child who grows up to become an emotionally tormented woman The novel opens in the 1970s when Pumpkin is a 9 year old girl Her father is a wealthy businessman with a family of his own her mother is an alcoholic who believes that someday Pumpkin s father will marry her Because of her mother s drinking problem her father eventually takes Pumpkin to live with his family a decision that his wife does not handle well The tale of Pumpkin s childhood is heartbreaking the neglect and poverty of life with her mother the longing she has for her father s love the aching estrangement she feels from her father s family In the second portion of the book Pumpkin is an adult and she is still reacting to her childhood scars and trying to understand her relationship to her parentsPumpkin is a true to life character whose actions are understandable though not commendable The author makes the reader want to adopt the young Pumpkin and befriend the older Pumpkin You want to somehow intervene and make her life better The author has taken what could be a clich d plot and made it something uniue and heartbreaking It is also a book that is rich in African detail the Zambian culture the poverty and class differences the political problems in the neighboring country of Rhodesia These details are well integrated into the storyline creating a strong sense of place without overpowering the plot Patchwork is a gritty novel filled with raw emotion and Pumpkin is an unforgettable character This well written book won the 2010 Penguin Prize for African Writing It is the author s first novel and I look forward to reading from her in the future This is the author s first adult novel though she has written several short stories and poems for both children and adults The first part has nine year old Pumpkin as she is known by everyone as the main character in the second part she is a mother herself To me the first part works the second not so well Maybe it is because the mis perceptions of a child are easier to accept than those of an adult Patchwork follows the life of Pumpkin first when she was around nine and then in the second part in her early 30s The book describes a childhood that had this girl stranded between the worlds of her rich dad whose illegitimate child she was and her alcoholic mother The story also covers how some hurt that happened in the past can have wide reaching impacts in the life of people and their families I thought the book was easy to read the narrative ust sucked you right in but it was nevertheless impactful I was teetering between rating this book a 3 or 4 I enjoyed this book and was compelled to keep reading The writing was excellent and the author did a great ob of describing cultural nuances language and experiences uniue to Zambian society She also did well to get into some very touchy social subjects and to describe how hurt can shape a person s entire life and being Almost every character was living with so much pain All of this was penned beautifully But I went with the lower rating in the end because I felt the story didn t Her mother his mistress this emotive tale takes us to the heart of a young girl's attempts to come to terms with her own identity and fashion a future for herself from the patchw.

I read a book called Poppadom Preach at around about the same time as I read this novel Patchwork by Ellen Banda Aaku They re both very similar first person narrations by neglected children suffering at the hands of their parents However where Poppadom Preach uses a heavy dose of black humour to illuminate the story Patchwork follows a much traditional path In other words you ll be filing this under Heavy GoingSet in Zambia in the 1970s 80s 9 year old Pumpkin is an unwilling accomplice in her mother s alcoholism hiding her empty bottles mopping up her vomit and heaving her unconscious weight into bed night after night They live in a community housing block the setting for most of Pumpkin s early memories not to mention street wise education The bulk of their material needs are met by Pumpkin s father a wealthy businessman who keeps his lover and illegitimate offspring hidden away from public viewThat is until he discovers the truth about the conditions in which his daughter is living In a rage he dismisses Pumpkin s mother and seizes their daughter delivering her back to his expansive mansion in the country to be brought up by his wife You might think such a move was admirable on the part Pumpkin s father intervening to rescue his child like that but his wife would not have agreed Her fury at her husband s infidelity so long suspected now had a tangible target And she would take aim each and every day so long as the bastard child lived under her roof The interesting thing about this novel is that its protagonist isn t all that likeable As a child Pumpkin s defiant bordering on nasty Although you can clearly understand her need for retaliation even respect her stubborn determination not to be cast aside her actions make you cringe Later as an adult she s visibly broken a paranoid and angry individual She doesn t trust anyone least of all her husband yet clearly she s still tormenting herself with the guilt of past actions And you can draw a straight line from the Pumpkin as a child to the Pumpkin as an adultThen there is a war it s an African novel what did you thinkThe formula for books like this normally involve a fair dose of sympathy for the victim a vulnerability that is impossible to uestion And there is no doubt that Pumpkin is anything but a victim But Banda Aaku doesn t paint any pictures in sepia around here Pumpkin is real a person whose tangled emotions find expression in predictable but sometimes shameful ways However if Pumpkin s not to blame for her actions who is It s easy to point the finger at the step mother that is until you know her story You can blame Pumpkin s mother but hang on a minute what demons was she living with that she would make such poor choices in life Pumpkin s father must accept some responsibility and he certainly tries to Should he not therefore earn some sort of reprieve These are uestions that Banda AAku leaves you to answer for yourselfThe beauty or should I say sadness of Patchwork is that it reveals a certain truth about damaged families damaged children up and down the country all over the world Everyone is at fault but no one thing or person is singularly to blame I m glad that I read this book even though it felt unnecessarily chopped up into a few sections I enjoyed following the story of our unreliable narrator Pumpkin even though I was uite frustrated with her this was a uick read it could have been longer i m used to thick books i really enjoyed the story and it was one. Winner of the Penguin Prize for African Writing 2010 fiction Destined from birth to inhabit two very different worlds that of her father the wealthy Joseph Sakavungo and that of.

Online Ebook Patchwork â Ellen Banda–Aaku – ecogenlife.org

Ellen Banda Aaku was born in Woking Surrey in 1965 The middle child of three she grew up in Zambia and has lived and worked in Ghana South Africa the UK and Zambia In 2004 she won the Macmillan Writers’ Prize for Africa for Wandi’s Little Voice a book for children In 2007 her short story Sozi’s Box was the overall winner of the 2007 Commonwealth Short Story Competition Her novel Patchwo