The Zanzibar Chest: A Story of Life, Love, and Death in Foreign Lands

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Atlantic Monthly Press, 2003 - Biography & Autobiography - 414 pages
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Journalist Aidan Hartley's epic narrative combines the literary reportage of Ryszard Kapuscinski with a historical love story reminiscent of Michael Ondaatje's The English Patient. Hartley is the inheritor of a colonial legacy that stretches back over 150 years. After the ravages he experiences in Ethiopia, Somalia (where three of his friends are torn to pieces by an angry mob), Rwanda, and the Congo, Aidan retreats to his family's house in Kenya where he discovers the Zanzibar chest his father left him. The chest contains the diaries of his father's best friend, Peter Davey, an Englishman who died mysteriously fifty years earlier. Papers in hand, Hartley embarks on a journey to remote southern Arabia to unlock the secrets not only of Davey's life, but of his own. An enthralling narrative of men and women meddling with, embracing, and ultimately being transformed by other cultures, The Zanzibar Chest is one of the most important examinations of colonialism ever written.

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The Zanzibar chest: a story of life, love, and death in foreign lands

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Weary of the atrocities he has witnessed over the last decade, the African-born Hartley revives when he discovers an elaborately carved chest containing the diaries of his father's best friend, who fell in love with an Arabian princess. ... Read full review

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