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Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight: An African Childhoodby Alexandra Fuller
Book Sense Best Nonfiction Book of 2002
A New York Times Notable Book of 2002
In her 2001 debut, Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight, Alexandra Fuller recalled in vivid, often excruciating detail coming of age in Rhodesia as a long civil war raged in neighboring Mozambique and her own country slid down the violent path toward an independent, African Nationalist regime. Dogs astounded readers with its candor, describing from a young girl's point of view a wild landscape of far-reaching beauty and a continent in the throes of a vicious political antagonism she could not yet comprehend. Narrating from within her own family's constant struggle for survival, Fuller brilliantly assimilated the dangers of war (land mines planted on the road to the local store, guerillas camping in the nearby hills) into the relentless domestic tumult around her, so that readers could hardly distinguish between the two. The Boston Globe, echoing the opinion of critics and readers around the world, marveled, "The extremely personal and unguarded understatement of this memoir is far more powerful than any sociopolitical analysis or apologist interpretation could hope to be."
Synopses & Reviews
In Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight, Alexandra Fuller remembers her African childhood with visceral authenticity. Though it is a diary of an unruly life in an often inhospitable place, it is suffused with Fuller?s endearing ability to find laughter, even when there is little to celebrate. Fuller's debut is unsentimental and unflinching but always captivating. In wry and sometimes hilarious prose, she stares down disaster and looks back with rage and love at the life of an extraordinary family in an extraordinary time.
From 1972 to 1990, Alexandra Fuller — known to friends and family as Bobo — grew up on several farms in southern and central Africa. Her father joined up on the side of the white government in the Rhodesian civil war, and was often away fighting against the powerful black guerilla factions. Her mother, in turn, flung herself at their African life and its rugged farm work with the same passion and maniacal energy she brought to everything else. Though she loved her children, she was no hand-holder and had little tolerance for neediness. She nurtured her daughters in other ways: She taught them, by example, to be resilient and self-sufficient, to have strong wills and strong opinions, and to embrace life wholeheartedly, despite and because of difficult circumstances. And she instilled in Bobo, particularly, a love of reading and of storytelling that proved to be her salvation.
A worthy heir to Isak Dinesen and Beryl Markham, Alexandra Fuller writes poignantly about a girl becoming a woman and a writer against a backdrop of unrest, not just in her country but in her home. But Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight is more than a survivor's story. It is the story of one woman's unbreakable bond with a continent and the people who inhabit it, a portrait lovingly realized and deeply felt.
"This is not a book you read just once, but a tale of terrible beauty to get lost in over and over." Newsweek
"Fuller is a gifted writer, capable of bringing a sense of immediacy to her writing and crafting descriptions so vibrant the reader cannot only picture the stifling hot African afternoon but almost feel it as well." Booklist
"By turns mischievous and openhearted, earthy and soaring...hair-raising, horrific, and thrilling." The New Yorker
"Vivid, insightful and sly... Bottom line: Out of Africa, brilliantly." People
"A classic is born in this tender, intensely moving and even delightful journey through a white African girl's childhood....Fuller's book has the promise of being widely read and remaining of interest for years to come." Publishers Weekly
"This was no ordinary childhood, and it makes a riveting story thanks to an extraordinary telling." School Library Journal
"Nobody has ever written a book about growing up white in rural Africa the way Alexandra Fuller has. Her voice is mordant, her ear uncanny. Her unsentimentality is a pleasant shock. Her sense of humor is extremely sly. Without a trace of pretension, she quietly performs what is really a major literary feat — nailing both the poetry and the myopia of a child?s experience in a brawling, bad-luck family on the losing side of an anti-colonial war." William Finnegan, author of Crossing the Line: A Year in the Land of Apartheid and Cold New World: Growing Up in Harder Country
"[A] gripping memoir...made up, in equal parts, of stark, matter-of-fact reminiscences about her childhood and fierce, Dinesenesque paeans to the land of Africa." Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
"As casually unadorned as rawhide, and just about as tough....The extremely personal and unguarded understatement of this memoir is far more powerful than any sociopolitical analysis or apologist interpretation could hope to be." The Boston Globe
Fuller, known to friends and family as Bobo, grew up on several farms in southern and central Africa. But Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight is more than a survivor's story: It is the story of one woman's unbreakable bond with a continent and the people who inhabit it, a portrait lovingly realized and deeply felt. A Book Sense Selection. Photos.
In Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight, Alexandra Fuller remembers her African childhood with candor and sensitivity. Though it is a diary of an unruly life in an often inhospitable place, it is suffused with Fuller's endearing ability to find laughter, even when there is little to celebrate. Fuller's debut is unsentimental and unflinching but always captivating. In wry and sometimes hilarious prose, she stares down disaster and looks back with rage and love at the life of an extraordinary family in an extraordinary time.
About the Author
Alexandra Fuller was born in England in 1969. In 1972 she moved with her family to a farm in Rhodesia. After that country's civil war in 1981, the Fullers moved first to Malawi, then to Zambia. Fuller received a B.A. from Acadia University in Nova Scotia, Canada. In 1994, she moved to Wyoming, where she still lives. She has two children.
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