About another book – ‘Glory’

Here is another book, one I read last year when it was on the short list for the Booker Prize. I’ve never read another book like it.

The author uses language differently. The novel seems to crescendo and ebb around the animals at its centre, often repeating whole phrases and sections to make a point. I kept having to pause and re-read, but I don’t think that’s a bad thing.

Much like Animal Farm, the story is about the damage and awe that surround egocentric, brutal power. There are headings and situations that swing me from laughter to frustration, and back again. Then, in the middle section of the book, the tempo suddenly changes. Here the story aims straight. Simiso Khumalo tells her daughter about their family, and how it was suddenly ambushed by horror. The words are simple and the scenes shocking. I could barely breathe as I read this part for the first time, and its intensity lingered as the injustices multiplied towards the end of the book.

For me this is a storyteller’s story. Trapped on the page Glory almost feels too alive, too big, as though it needs to burst out on to the stage. I hope it will find itself there one day, because I don’t think it’s an average novel, nor is it any old tale. It’s a challenge to all of us – a reminder – and so worth reading.

Here’s a quotation from the novel:

“If I don’t write, then who will I blame when I wake up one day to find myself in the belly of a crocodile that calls itself History, that devours the stories of everyone else and goes on to speak for us?”

Grandfather in ‘Glory’ by NoViolet Bulawayo

ISBN: 978-1-784-74429-8

Copyright Georgie Knaggs & The Phraser 2023