Last week the long list for the Orange prize 2010 was announced and I discovered that I already owned a copy of this one. I started to read it straight away, keen to discover why it made the list.
Black Mamba Boy begins in 1930s Somalia and follows ten-year-old Jama as he sets out on a dangerous journey across the desert, searching for his father. He travels through war-torn Eritrea and Sudan, to Egypt, Palestine and finally to Britain.
The plot is based on the true story of what happened to the author’s father; it is amazing to think that one person endured so much hardship at such a young age. The terrible things that this little boy saw and had to endure to stay alive are almost beyond belief.
Unfortunately this book didn’t grab me in the way that it should. In the beginning too many characters were introduced, so I struggled to remember who was who. I failed to connect to Jama and so I felt distanced from the events he was witnessing. It could be that he was forced to grow up quickly, but I also didn’t feel that the book realistically portrayed a child’s point of view – he seemed to understand everything that was going on around him, having an adult’s comprehension of the world.
The book also contained long descriptions, which led my mind to wander away from the page.
There is nothing wrong with these descriptions by themselves, but when you have to wade through pages and pages of them with no text to break things up it gets tedious. The repitition of the word Jama also began to irritate me.
Overall, I’m afraid I was disappointed by this book. I hope I’ll have more succes with my next Orange read.
There are very few reviews for this book out there at the moment, but it does seem to divide people. I think this is another Marmite book!
an amazing ride through the dusty, noisy but bustling streets of the some of the most important cities of North East Africa in the ’30’s. Lotus Reads
There are, however, moments when Black Mamba Boy stumbles…… Follow The Thread