An Elegy for Easterly – Petina Gappah

I have almost finished the collection of short stories by Petina Gappah An Elegy for Easterly. Gappah is a Zimbabwean writer who has been working as a lwayer and has been living in Switzerland for the past ten years. Her stories are incredible, straight forward, like a hidden lens opening on an image that has been obscured from our view. Her characters are everyday, they are people that we know, people of our lives, people that are very much you and very much me. The stories are also very funny in a rather bitter sweet way because it is oftentimes the humour which shows are the harshest of realities. Not just that these stories are of the too often maligned African continent but that they are of Zimbabwe, the country whose leader the rest of the world loves to hate, is what makes this collection so special. Imagine coming from a country that is now free game for those who wish to erect and uphold images and opinions that denounce not just a leader as demonic but his people as victims, as helpless little lambs who we must go and save. Gappah reminds us simple white folk that those black folk over there are not the white man’s burden. And Gappah not only shows us that the most hideous people are still in fact people, walking and breathing living flesh like you and me but also that the Zimbabwean people are strong, resilient, sometimes in disagreement, sometimes not but all the same like you and me, people who know well enough they are the best people to take hold of their own situations.

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