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JUNE Book of the Month - Baileys Prize longlisted novel THE BOOK OF MEMORY, Come and chat to author PETINA GAPPAH on Tuesday 28 June 9-10pm

(82 Posts)
UrsulaMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 16-May-16 12:57:55

Longlisted for the Baileys Women's Prize for fiction, Petina Gappah's stunning debut novel, The Book of Memory, follows her collection of short stories, An Elegy for Easterly, winner of the Guardian First Book Award. Our June Book of the Month is the story of Memory, an albino woman waiting on death row in Chikurubi prison in Harare, Zimbabwe, having been convicted of murdering a powerfully wealthy white man. Memory writes down as much as she can remember as part of her appeal and the resulting notebooks of memories make up Gappah's acclaimed debut novel.

To find out more, go to our book of the month page and we'll post here to let you know when the giveaway copies have gone. If you’re not lucky enough to bag one of those, you can always get a Kindle edition or paperback copy here

When we asked Petina if she'd be happy to come and talk to you about her book she replied, "Do please say a HUGE THANK YOU from me! How exciting! I am a huge fan of Mumsnet, and know the lingo in and out, from cutted up pears to cocklodgers, from LTB to 'naice ham'. I am very honoured!"

With what's been happening and as an international trade lawyer as well as author, Petina also told us she'd be happy to talk about "Everything! Books! The Book of Memory! Baby names! Brexit!"

So we're delighted that Petina will be joining us to answer your questions about The Book of Memory and her writing career on Tuesday 28 June, 9-10pm. Please feel free to discuss the book here throughout the month and then come and meet Petina on the night, and ask her a question or simply tell her what you think of her books.

FernieB Fri 03-Jun-16 09:42:08

Just received my copy this morning - thank you.

LindseyandMatthew Fri 03-Jun-16 16:09:15

Just received my copy, can't wait to read it

SorchaMumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 03-Jun-16 17:35:28

Hi- as you can see, the copies have now all been bagged! We'll email those who have been allocated books so you know to expect one. If you missed out on a free one, the paperback is now out so do grab one and discuss it here throughout the month. Happy reading!

FernieB Thu 09-Jun-16 10:15:18

For anyone in a Bookclub, this would make a great choice of read as there's a lot of aspects to discuss - prejudices, the reliability of memory, different cultures, politics etc.

It's a slow burner - the story builds up gradually as the details of Memory's life are pieced together from her accounts of her current life in prison and her memories of childhood and adolescence. It's not an easy book to read but is so well written, it draws the reader in and is utterly absorbing.

FernieB Thu 09-Jun-16 10:22:11

Just to add some questions for Petina:

What was the initial spark that gave you the idea for this story? And what do you think happens to Memory next?

Also, Memory is deprived of reading material in prison and is touchingly pleased by any scraps of newspaper passed on to her. If you had nothing to read at all, which book/newspaper would you most miss?

new5poundnote Sun 12-Jun-16 19:57:41

Thank you Mumsnet for my copy and thank you Petina, I loved it! I couldn't put it down. I was fascinated by the description of life in Zimbabwe. The characters, both major and minor, were so well drawn. The way the story unfolded was very clever. I can't stop thinking about it. The ending was really unexpected yet made perfect sense.

frogletsmum Fri 17-Jun-16 07:41:14

Thanks Mumsnet for my copy - looking forward to starting it today.

Mythbirt Sun 19-Jun-16 09:50:41

Just before starting to read this, there was a review in a Guardian supplement which having read the book I feel was nit picky; it was to do with names popping up suddenly without introduction. I got thoroughly involved in this book and felt it reflected the style of someone gathering their recollections. The narrator led me through her story pulling me towards the end which I could not anticipate. Yes, there is a curiosity of what happens next but not a dissatisfaction and it's a book I will recommend and share with others.

Givemecoffeeplease Sat 25-Jun-16 22:16:46

Loved this book! Yes, I also feel the curiosity over Memory's future is a good ending - but perhaps as the author you might continue the story in a sequel? Please do!

TillyMumsnetBookClub Mon 27-Jun-16 20:13:53

Looking forward to this chat tomorrow very much indeed. Hope you can all make it, do come and ask a question or just chat to Petina about her fascinating life - have a look at this excellent profile in the Guardian

See you tomorrow, 9pm...

Belo Tue 28-Jun-16 09:20:32

I loved this book. I found it hard to get into to start with due to all of the dialect. I kept feeling that I should be understanding it and that I was missing something. But, once I got past that and I was able to see the dialogue as more of a scene and atmosphere setting device then I really enjoyed it. My question for Petina is why did you include all the dialogue? Was it as per my understanding or have I missed something?

user1467118240 Tue 28-Jun-16 13:59:09

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

PetinaGappah Tue 28-Jun-16 18:57:22

One two, testing, Mumsnet are you receiving, over?

TillyMumsnetBookClub Tue 28-Jun-16 19:28:06

We are receiving loud and clear. Roger that. Over and out until 9pm...

AnnaAsh Tue 28-Jun-16 19:57:18

Hi Petina, thought I would get my question in now in the hope that you will be able to answer it during the web chat later. Thanks for such a brilliant book. I loved it reading it. I was interested in why you decided on a main character with albinism. To me it seemed like it made Menory more of an outsider as she couldnt fit in with either black or white communities, as she was not like either.

SallySwann Tue 28-Jun-16 20:38:07

A little bit early, Pettina, but I'd like to say that your book was a fascinating read. Although it took me a while to get into and, I have to admit, that you lost me every time you delved into the local language, I was struck by memory's story and the prejudices that you highlight her having suffered. You also managed to inject humour into some really difficult subjects. you hint that you had a few hurdles to cross before finally finishing the book, so did you always have the backing of your publisher throughout, or were you pressurised in any way to make perhaps more "commercialised" changes? The Book of Memory - a great title by the way.

Punkatheart Tue 28-Jun-16 20:42:51

I was talking to a writer recently about the concept of 'other'. He had severe racial bullying in his school and he said it set him apart, gave him distance and wisdom, helped him become a writer. It made me think of Mnemosyne because I was reading about her at the time - that ability to observe and of course, the unreliability of our personal memories. Have you ever had that feeling of otherness - that special quality that makes you able to observe others with such controlled and beautiful ability. Is that what made you a writer, or was it something else entirely?

ginghamgiraffe Tue 28-Jun-16 20:50:21

I am late to the party as haven't read this yet - am saving all my juicy reads for my holiday
Interested to hear what you think about Brexit though - lovely to have a MNer among us
I am Team Remain fwiw

SallySwann Tue 28-Jun-16 20:50:25

Sorry for misspelling your name in my earlier posting, Petina.

HarrietMWelsch Tue 28-Jun-16 20:59:06

Hi Petina,

I might ask something more about the book later (fascinating btw- & interested to see what others think!) but I see that your first work was the award-winning set of short stories (congrats!) and this is your first novel. Do you think it's 'easier' to start by writing short stories? And how was the writing process different to that of a novel- did you enjoy one or the other more?

barricade Tue 28-Jun-16 21:00:29

Many thanks to Mumsnet / Faber & Faber for a copy of this book. I received it later than everyone else - as a result, I still have a long way to go to finish the book. However, I’m really curious to see how the story pans out. As expected, this was never going to be a light whimsical read. It is instead a perceptive contrast of class and culture, laced with the undertone of prejudice and deep-lying family secrets. The narrative build-up is gradually developed creating an intriguing premise. Did the events really happen, or is the narrator recounting a distorted version of the truth? Ultimately, it is a book about Memory ... literally!

I'd like to ask Petina a few general questions to start with, if I may ..

QUESTION ONE:- Do you have a personal favourite book and/or author?
QUESTION TWO:- With the advancements in CGI and on-screen visual effects, and the tools now available to film-makers, we have seen previously 'unfilmable' literary classics finally make it to the big screen. Would you be open to the possibility of your book being optioned for film or television, and how would you feel about your work in 'other people's hands'?
QUESTION THREE:- What's next? Is there another book on the horizon, and if so, do you have a specific genre or theme in mind?


TillyMumsnetBookClub Tue 28-Jun-16 21:01:52

Good evening, everyone...

Firstly, a big thank you to all those who have posted so far - I hope you are all able to be here with us tonight.

I’m delighted to welcome PETINA GABBAH, Guardian First Book Award winner (for her previous short story collection) and author of the tremendous THE BOOK OF MEMORY, to Bookclub this evening. A quick peek at Petina's website will give you an insight into our multi-faceted and ferociously talented author, who not only has three law degrees but also writes in two languages. I am thrilled that we have the chance to talk about life, law and literature with her over the next hour.

Petina, thank you very, very much indeed for giving us your time tonight. And congratulations on your beautifully crafted and deeply engrossing novel.

We've already got a fair few questions to get through so I'll just add the standard Mumsnet ones that we like to ask all our authors...

What childhood book most inspired you?

What would be the first piece of advice you would give to anyone attempting to write fiction?

What is the best book you’ve given someone recently?

And the best you’ve received?

Over to you...

RoastieToastieReastie Tue 28-Jun-16 21:04:16

Hello Petina!

I've just finished the book and really enjoyed it. I found it tough reading Memory's story but a fascinating insight into the culture of Zimbabwe. I didn't think, given the subject matter, it would be an uplifting book but it was and I'm now interested to read your short stories too.

Great to hear you are a mner! I've got two questions (I know that's cheeky but one is book related and one is mn related). What has been your favourite mn thread and how did you find writing a novel compared with short stories?

barricade Tue 28-Jun-16 21:04:21

Really sorry to nit-pick, Tilly, but isn't is Pettina GAPPAH (as opposed to GaBBah)? Have I got it wrong??


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