Nowhere in Africa : An Autobiographical Novel
Booklist Monthly Selections - #2 February 2004
Based on Zweig's personal experience as a German Jewish refugee child in Kenya during World War II, this novel inspired the 2003 Oscar Award winner for best foreign film. Now the book has been translated into English for the first time, and as in the movie, the drama is in the family's confused search for home where three worlds and three languages--English, German, and Swahili--intersect and people "cannot agree on a common word for strife." The rural Kenyan setting is idyllic, the "houseboy" Owuor a perfect mentor, and somehow the desperate Jewish aliens don't see the local racism toward the "natives." But there's no nostalgia about the refugee family: their leaving, their wrenching guilt about those they left behind, their struggle at school and work. Best of all is the child's view of the war at home. Husband and wife fight all the time. The beautiful lady can't stand it on the farm, but when he wants to return to Germany after the war, she can't leave again. The ironic mix of anger and sorrow is unforgettable. ((Reviewed February 15, 2004)) Copyright 2004 Booklist Reviews.