The author is Jeffrey Gettleman, the subtitle is A Memoir of Romance, War, and Survival, and this travel romance of East Africa has taken a beating on Twitter and elsewhere, for its apparently “neo-colonial” approach. I bought the book, wondering if I might find a contrarian take to offer. I’ve only browsed it, but here was one random passage I ran across, noting the scene will culminate in the two making out (and perhaps intercourse?):
As my eye traveled across the faces, I kept coming back to the same one. It belonged to a girl with high cheekbones, wide-set eyes, heavy eyelids and dark hair; her features looked Eurasian, maybe even Eskimo. She was wearing a red dress that showed off her back; she was lithe and freckly. As she danced, the blacks of her eyes shone. There was something in them that I had seen before. She seemed deeply, freely happy, like those kids on Lake Malawi. I could tell she really dug dancing.
Now, I am not here to offer him a deserved bad writing award, nor to shame him, but still I consider this data and I am puzzling over what this data means. In a mere minute of browsing, I found several similar passages, and with a few more minutes they seemed to multiply endlessly. Nor was it easy to stumble across pages with lots of information about Africa on them. And yet he is a Pulitzer winner and a foreign correspondent for The New York Times, East Africa Bureau Chief for a decade.
But exactly which views do I need to revise? The NYT writers and journalists I have met are uniformly impressive. It is not easy to win a Pulitzer Prize.
Here is a review from Laura Seay, she is harsh but it seems to me probably fair. Is Derek Parfit right about the self after all? At the very least, my opinion of the political correctness scolds went up a bit today. And I once again ask myself whether I should spend more or less time writing negative reviews of books (mostly I don’t, though this week’s reading was pretty meh).