Official Review: The Slope of Kongwa Hill

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Official Review: The Slope of Kongwa Hill

Post by e-tasana-williams » 18 Dec 2016, 19:36

[Following is the official review of "The Slope of Kongwa Hill" by Anthony R. Edwards.]
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4 out of 4 stars
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The Slope of Kongwa Hil - A Boy's Tale of Africa is the autobiographical novel by Anthony Edwards. The year is 1948, and Mr. Edwards' family are expats from Britain who relocate to Tanganyika (now Tanzania) in East Africa. The book is divided into three parts: "The Foreigner", "One of the Boys" and "Growing Up". Each part details significant stages of Mr. Edwards' boarding school years at Kongwa School from age 9 to 14.

As a boy Mr. Edwards has a cool relationship with his parents, only seeing them on school holidays. Without including spoilers, Mr. Edwards' boarding school experience includes taking daily malaria prophylaxis, having Boy Scout adventures and being in constant fear of getting beaten with the kiboko (a thick, cane-like whip made from hippo skin). There is a Lord of the Flies element to the story, in that boarders have a great amount of independence, they develop their own societal hierarchy in a school with no physical boundary, and wildlife and boys wander freely.

Told in the first person from the author's perspective, this is an engaging story. The reader is drawn in immediately and held captive until the end of the book. It is reminiscent of Isak Dinesen's Out of Africa, but written from the perspective of a young boy instead of a woman. The writing is descriptive and concise at the same time, and it is easy to get lost in the East African countryside where Mr. Anthony spends his childhood.

When reading this book you will need to suspend any conflicting views you may have about colonialism, to appreciate the excellent writing. For example, adult servants are referred to as "boys" or "her Africans". Another example is the description of the Mau Mau rebels in Kenya. They fight against British rule, but instead of being called rebels or freedom fighters in the book, they are called terrorists. If you keep in mind that the tale is about the author's life in the midst of British colonial Africa, and that the author is a product of that history, you can truly enjoy this coming-of-age novel.

Although there is a glossary of terms at the end of the book, one thing I would like to see is a translation of Swahili phrases and conversations within the context in which they are said. There is one part where Tony's friend Hazel translates her conversation with the Masai for those present, but more translations would add to the enjoyment of the book.

Having said that, I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars. The writing is engaging and illustrative, the voice is authentic and the work appears to be professionally edited. Readers who enjoy autobiographies, especially those set in rural areas, should take a look at The Slope of Kongwa Hill: A Boy's Tale of Africa.

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Post by Kdonegan91 » 24 Dec 2016, 12:23

This sounds like an interesting and unique book. Does the lack of translation in certain areas take away from the flow or make the book hard to understand? I love reading books about true events but I have not read a book based in Africa. I might have to give this one a try. Great review!
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Post by gali » 28 Mar 2017, 06:26

Sounds like an interesting coming-of-age tale, and real at that! I like it when one is drawn in immediately and held captive until the end of the book. Thank you for the review!
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Post by CatInTheHat » 28 Mar 2017, 06:35

I absolutely love learning about the culture in this time period in different parts of Africa. I will add this to my reading list!
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Post by hsimone » 28 Mar 2017, 06:45

Thank you for the thoughtful review! I can't even imagine half the things the author, as a young boy, goes through. It sounds like an exciting autobiography, for sure. I do wonder, without the translations, if this read would get a bit frustrating. But, it looks like you have enjoyed the read. Congratulations to the author for receiving such a positive review and thank you for sharing his story!
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Post by kandscreeley » 28 Mar 2017, 07:22

This does sound like an interesting and intriguing book. It would be interesting to see the author growing up in Africa. I can't even imagine what that would be like. Thanks for the review.
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Post by greenstripedgiraffe » 28 Mar 2017, 08:11

I know next to nothing about the British subjugation of various colonies around the world (Except USA, or course HA!) This sounds like the perfect book to gain some knowledge about this time period from a more personal type account. Thank you for the review!
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Post by James Craft » 28 Mar 2017, 08:36

This sounds like a very interesting read. Thank you for sharing this and congratulations.
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Post by Lincoln » 28 Mar 2017, 08:38

This has got to be one of the more intriguing books up here I have seen in a while. Thank you for sharing this!
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Post by Amagine » 28 Mar 2017, 08:57

This story sounds really interesting. I'm especially interested in the fact you stated it reminded you of Lord of the Flies. I'm interested I'm reading about the author's story and his stay at an all boys school where they made their own rules. I'm going to have to check this one out later.
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Post by cherrykarl » 28 Mar 2017, 09:01

Based on the author's life events. Can't wait to read the sample. I would really like to know more about Africa – the life, the people. This book will surely educate the readers.
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Post by hailvilla18 » 28 Mar 2017, 09:20

I think this is a very interesting autobiography. Readers will also gain knowledge for the author is a product of history and he narrates his experiences during the colonial period of British in Africa. Great review! To the author, congrats for this excellent work.
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Post by skalicia » 28 Mar 2017, 09:34

This sounds like a really interesting book. Does the translation issues (looking up in the back) take away from the flow of the book?

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Post by Christina O Phillips » 28 Mar 2017, 09:44

I don't normally read a lot of nonfiction, but this story sounds interesting. I appreciate the warning about the language use ('boys,' 'her Africans'). I actually took a class in Swahili, so having that language in there makes me want to read this more.

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Post by mindyg123 » 28 Mar 2017, 09:56

Great review. An autobiography about a boy growing up in Africa sounds interesting and informative. The challenges that he faces let's you know what it's like to be an outsider in a foreign country. Congrats on being BOTD.
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