Glory – NoViolet Bulawayo

READ FOR BOOKERTHON

❝ Glory is an Orwellian retelling of the coup that overthrew Mugabe. All the characters are anthropomorphised animals, with the Old Horse’s character modelled on Mugabe, his wife a donkey, and all other characters various creatures in heels, in queues for food and uploading their thoughts to social media on their smart phones.

They live in Jidada, with a da, and another da, challenging but mostly suffering under the oppressive regime of the Father Of The Nation, only to discover that life post the Old Horse is not as sweet as they imagined.

To be honest I often forgot the characters were animals, when they were tweeting or being abused by soldiers, or when a black citizen was lying beneath a white defender whispering “I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe”.

But that didn’t negate the effect the book had for me. It was extremely moving, highly satirical and very much a history lesson. When the animality of the characters was clear, when ducks marched by with placards for instance, I guess it deflected the horror of what was happening by removing the humanity from the occasion. Not that animals should be treated this way either, but I felt like the characterisation was a shield to protect us from the true horror that Bulawayo could have put on the page.

This is a very good book. It is dense and intense, and you need to be prepared to give up a little bit of your life for it, but it will be worth it. – Rachel

And yet, another cluster of even worse beasts threw themselves on the ground and filled the air with their stupid grief so that they threatened to drown the sweet song of our joyous jubilation. He’s gone! They’ve removed the Father of the Nation! they cried. Now what’ll become of us without him?! they wept. Because, honestly, us we just weren’t prepared for was for him to rule we all died and left him ruling.

❝ The light-hearted almost comical beginning to Glory was definitely tinged with a slight sense of uneasiness and discomfort. There were some laugh-out-loud moments for me, but with an increasing feeling that This Is Definitely Not Okay.

I also was embarrassed by my own ignorance as I knew moments in this story must be direct references to something, but just what I did not know. 

The humourous moments soon became few and far between and the grim reality of living a life under a political dictatorship was revealed to the reader in visceral and devastating ways.

Why was every character in this book an animal?! If it was to lull the reader into a false sense of security that this was going to be a bit of a jovial barnyard tale then this goal was achieved. Similarities to Animal Farm will I’m sure be expanded on by reviewers with more insight than me.

Glory was gripping. The narrator’s urgency and the slow and increasingly violent unravelling of the characters and the political situation kept me completely engaged. – Suzy

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Published 2022
Viking
416 pages

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