African Me & Satellite TVby Jo Robinson
After the brutal beating of an elderly domestic worker, Suzette takes her in, and sets off a
For many years Suzette has managed very well to live her life without actually taking part in it, avoiding any possibility of pain by very carefully ignoring reality. Until something happens. Something so terrible that she has no choice but to abandon her cocoon of safety.
After the brutal beating of an elderly domestic worker, Suzette takes her in, and sets off a chain of events that leads to devastating heartbreak. And an unexpected hero changes everything. Finally finding her voice, she speaks out, and her world explodes, culminating in the death of a very special man.
On her path to make amends, she discovers the story of his life, connects with the people of his past, and finds the chance to fully live her life once again if that's what she chooses to.
- CreateSpace Publishing
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- 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.69(d)
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I received a free copy of this ebook in an online giveaway. These are my honest views of this novel. Jo Robinson's novel, African Me and Satellite TV, is a most compelling and powerful novel, with a wide range of characters drawn with deep emotions, and a message some may find uncomfortable. Which is not necessarily a bad thing. Jo's main character, Suzette Hertzog, is caring, artistic, somewhat emotional, and extremely inhibited. She has lived with pushing down her abhorrence of the way whites treat blacks in Zimbabwe ever since she saw "her father punch their driver in the face. Her 10-year-old heart had frozen in her chest, and over the next few days of listening to her parent's vicious racist rants over his suspected, but unproven, theft of five litres of fuel, and watching him sobbing, denying it, begging them not to make him go, she finally decided to stop looking." This scene stopped me cold with its vivid truth. One can totally see how Suzette could want to stop looking. Suzette feels badly about the way she has been treating her husband, basically vegging in front of the TV, and not taking care of her personal appearance. At least, part of her feels that way. Part of her isn't quite prepared to do anything about it until the arrival of a pushy, arrogant, crass, racist couple who force themselves on Suzette and her friends. When this couple beats their maid and throws her out into the road along with her belongings, Suzette's gardener brings her home, and something inside Suzette snaps: life will never be the same again. It will be better. Suzette begins to pick up her life and art where she left off. She goes to her studio and uncovers the last unfinished painting. I was haunted by the mental image of it -- of the Afrikaan children, and the story of how she spent time walking through town seeking out and sketching children in an attempt to bring authenticity to her work, and to show the devastating effects of the social upheaval on the innocent. It was instantly understandable that this shy, sensitive artist would shut out her career, her life, her loves, in despair of ever, on her own, bringing about change. And so, she sat in front of the satellite TV, immersing herself in the banal. But Suzette does more than just pick up where she left off -- she begins to stretch, to do things she used to be afraid of doing, to say things she used to tamp down silently within herself, to stand up for the weak and powerless. She becomes determined and protective of others. With this new beginning, Suzette sees with new insight into her family, friends, and servants. Apparently, she and her gardener had much more in common than she could ever have imagined. The ending is pure inspiration. ( I'm not going to give it away.) The moral here seems to be that many people give up and walk away, trying to pretend the problems aren't there, not only in Africa, but here in the west, as well, where we have our own brand of racism and hatred. But we cannot become like the ostrich and bury our heads in the sand. African Me & Satellite TV is historical fiction at its finest. I had a fair knowledge before of South Africa and apartheid, and something about Rhodesia's history, and also, Rwanda. But I knew very little about Zimbabwe. I know that I have had my eyes opened by Jo's story and, hopefully, I will never be the same. I will be better.
Speaking up in post-Apartheid South Africa As I learn about Jo Robinson, I discover that her writing reveals worlds that are unfamiliar and intriguing to me. For example, this book gives us her insider's look at post-Apartheid Africa, from the point of view of Europeans who are eager to collaborate with the original residents, and confront the history and social structure challenges that prevent such equitable relationships. Suzette is a woman who can inspire us as her "spirit awakes" over the course of this story. She recognizes the consequences of her forebears raiding Zimbabwe, and wants to do her part to make amends, but she is timid. As Jo writes, after Suzette has met a challenge, "the words she'd spoken had been constantly in her mind, restricting her for years, from being who she was, as she'd wasted her energy trying to suppress them." Princess, her cook, is a character who pops off of the pages with life. I looked forward to reading Princess's responses to events as they unfolded. At the other end of the scale, Christopher recedes into the readers' hearts. Suzette is surrounded by a number of other characters, and each holds a role in exploring the value and consequences of respectful relationships with people and animals. The author gave me a free copy of this book, but did not ask me for a review.
Author Jo Robinson did an excellent job portraying life in Zimbabwe post Apartheid. The main character, Suzette Hertzog, has faced so much tragedy that she can no longer participate in every day life; the pain is too much. She loses interest in her painting and her life. She cares very little about her appearance and seems fixated on reading her books and television. Through the book the characters develop; I fell in love with some and hated others. Things take a turn for the worse when the Shermans move in. The brutal beating of the elderly woman who worked for them causes a stir and an awakening in Suzette that she doesn't quite understand but cannot deny. This is a well written story and I encourage everyone to pick up their copy and follow Suzette's journey.