A Girl From Zanzibar

A Girl From Zanzibar

5.0 1
by Roger King, Ruth Greenstein
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions

“A headstrong heroine zigzags from Zanzibar to America in Roger King’s daring new novel.”—Elaina Richardson, O magazine

“There is no safe haven, this brilliant, prescient novel suggests.”—Suzanne Ruta, The New York Times

Winner of the Bay Area Book Reviewers Association Award for Best Novel 2002.

Overview

“A headstrong heroine zigzags from Zanzibar to America in Roger King’s daring new novel.”—Elaina Richardson, O magazine

“There is no safe haven, this brilliant, prescient novel suggests.”—Suzanne Ruta, The New York Times

Winner of the Bay Area Book Reviewers Association Award for Best Novel 2002.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The Western idea of exoticism is turned upside down in A Girl from Zanzibar, a cool, cosmopolitan novel by Roger King (Sea Level, etc.). Marcella D'Souza, a "Goan Indian Portuguese Arab African of Catholic Moslem parentage," displays early entrepreneurial talent, running a small taxi business and then an ice cream stand with her aunt in Zanzibar. She soon seizes the chance to move to London, where she parlays her skills into a small real estate empire and becomes involved with Benji, a Singaporean Indian who hatches grand, shady international schemes. An unfortunate encounter lands Marcella in jail for eight years, and when she gets out she wangles herself a job as an associate professor of Multicultural Studies at a small college in Vermont. From this college she reflects on the odd twists and turnings of her life, the strangest perhaps being her sojourn in snowy, peaceful-and yes, exotic-Vermont.
Library Journal
Marcella D'Souza's migratory life takes her from her native Zanzibar to London and Vermont as she falls in love with an arms dealer, works as a real estate broker, and eventually builds a fortune. Of mixed Goan, Arab, Portuguese, and East African descent, Marcella is beautiful, bright, and business-minded. But she quickly loses everything when she is arrested and wrongly convicted of a drug charge. While in prison for eight years, Marcella gets a formal education and later becomes a college professor of multicultural studies. At the end of this fascinating tale, she is on the road again, traveling all over America and still searching for a place to call home. Born in England and himself well traveled over four continents, King offers wonderful descriptions of distant places. The easy, fluid writing style of his other novels (e.g., Horizontal Hotel) is evident here. Recommended for public and academic libraries.-Lisa Rohrbaugh, East Palestine Memorial P.L., OH Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
In an engrossing picaresque novel from King (Sea Level, 1992), a young woman's adventures and loves unfold across a dozen years and three continents. Born in Zanzibar, Marcella D'Souza is not really an African. Her father was a Catholic from Goa (the Portuguese colony on the west coast of India), and her mother was her father's Arab mistress, killed not long after Marcella's birth in an anti-Arab riot. Raised by her father and his wife (whom she believed to be her mother), Marcella can be best described as "a Goan Indian Portuguese Arab African of Catholic Moslem parentage," a good résumé for someone who ends up in the Multicultural Studies Department of tiny Moore College in Vermont. Marcella's story of how she landed in Vermont proceeds mostly backward. We learn that she received most of her education in England, through an Open University program that enrolled her while she was in prison. She'd gone to London via Reading, where she lived briefly with an Englishman who had been her lover in Zanzibar. In Zanzibar, she had been a small-business woman, operating two cabs, an ice-cream truck, and a bar. Reading was a bit too much of a change from Zanzibar, but London suited her just fine: She made friends within the city's large immigrant community and took advantage of the privatization schemes of the Thatcher years to purchase former council flats with the help of her lover Benji, a somewhat shady investor. How did she end up in prison? Let's just say that she was stretching the truth when she assured the dean of Moore College that it involved an antiracism demonstration. As one of her friends points out: the only religion shared by everyone in polyglot and multiethnic Zanzibar isconspiracy. An engaging and subtle tale that unites far-flung worlds in the person of a complex, intriguing heroine.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781885586605
Publisher:
Turtle Point Press
Publication date:
04/01/2000
Pages:
288
Product dimensions:
5.00(w) x 8.50(h) x 1.00(d)

Meet the Author

Born in London, Roger King is the author of three previous novels, Horizontal Hotel, Written on a Stranger's Map, and Sea Level. After traveling throughout Asia and Africa in the 1980's as an agricultural economist for various United Nations agencies, he turned to writing and teaching fulltime. He lives in western Massachusetts.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >

A Girl From Zanzibar 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
everrillo More than 1 year ago
A Girl From Zanzibar is about displacement - where we have been, where we want to be, and where we cannot escape from. This metaphorical place is concretely represented by Zanzibar, an island which embodies, at least for those of us in the western hemisphere, the concept of "far." Marcella, a beautiful Zanzibari of mixed African-Asian-Arabic-European-Catholic-Muslim heritage, finds herself stuck in her homeland of Zanzibar after a failed attempt to get a passport. Through a series of misadventures involving a British visitor (who may or may not be a spy), a suave African with shady connections, and a questionable proposal of marriage, Marcella finally escapes the stifling environment of her homeland, launching herself into a new life in London. There, she attempts to make her way as a fledgling entrepreneur, only to find herself quickly enmeshed in the tangled web of the Asian underground: international arms deals, money laundering schemes, and suspiciously smooth real estate transactions. Soon, she is flying high. But her success is tempered by the increasingly risky schemes of her lover, Benji, and the impending threat posed by his "connections." What is striking about this story is not just its exotic setting, but the way it is told. Roger King manages to weave this fascinating tale almost entirely from the standpoint of Marcella's recollections - for she is, at the telling of the story, a professor in a remote Vermont college. The unfolding of Marcella's haunted past in the context of a stodgy New England town makes for a remarkable contrast. And, as the story builds to its high point, when Marcella's safe present and dangerous past collide, the tension is almost unbearable. King's writing is fluid, perceptive, and profoundly engaging. This is one of those books that is hard to put down, and even harder to forget. Highly recommended.