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Thursday, December 31, 2009

Bill Bryson's African Diary

Bill Bryson's African Diary
by Bill Bryson
53 pages



This book was not on my radar at all, yet I just had to read it when I found it yesterday. I've been listening to the biography of Isak Dinesen, author of OUT OF AFRICA, and it has put me in the mood to watch the movie again and to read the book. So while I was at the library yesterday I decided to look for a copy of OUT OF AFRICA. Lo and behold, this Bill Bryson book was shelved right next to it. A Bryson book I'd never heard of, that was very short, and had to do with Africa? SCORE!

The book is a very brief chronicle of a trip Bryson took in 2002 with CARE International, a relief organization, to tour their projects in Kenya. The trip included a stop at a camp for refugees from Somalia, visits with women who are part of CARE's micro-lending program, a tour of a model farm, and a trip to see a community well installed by CARE. There was some sightseeing thrown in as well, including a trip to Karen Blixen's farm (that's the same Karen from OUT OF AFRICA, who wrote under the pseudonym Isak Dinesen).

Bryson's account is a blend of his trademark humor and clear compassion for the people he meets. It is an uplifting look at what poverty-stricken people can do when they are given even just a little assistance.

7 comments:

Literary Feline said...

This sounds like a great book, Heather. How lucky that you happened upon it! I haven't read anything by Bryson yet. I'll have to change that. Thanks for the review!

A Bookshelf Monstrosity said...

I've always enjoyed Bryson and haven't ever heard of this one. I'll have to check it out.

hcmurdoch said...

I love Bill Bryson's books and don't think I knew about the Africa one...I'll have to check it out!

Heather J. said...

Literary Feline - That's one thing I miss since I've started blogging - I rarely just browse the library shelves. I'm so glad I did on this occasion though!

A Bookshelf Monstrosity & hcmurdoch - It really is quite short so there isn't a TON of his humor in there but I think it is worth the read. Plus the entire price of the book is donated to CARE, so that's a great thing!

bermudaonion said...

I love Bryson's voice, so I bet this is a good one. Thanks for the review!

Rebecca Reid said...

I always thought Bryson was irreverently funny. (never read him, that's just the stereotype I have in my mind) But this sounds feel good and inspriing!

Heather J. said...

bermudaonion - It is!

Rebecca - I've only read Bryson's A WALK IN THE WOODS but I didn't find it irreverent, just really hilarious. I've got other titles of his on my shelf to read this year - he's great!

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