The Leper Compound

The Leper Compound

by Paula Nangle

Paperback

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Overview

The Leper Compound will . . . remain with the reader long after the book has been closed.”—Stuart Dybek, author of I Sailed with Magellan

For Colleen, motherless at seven, isolated from her schizophrenic younger sister, illness unleashes the uncanny and essential of human identity. Growing into womanhood in Rhodesia’s final conflict-ridden years, she transgresses social, racial, and political boundaries in her search for connection. This masterly novel is a searing evocation of late-twentieth-century African life.

Paula Nangle was raised by missionaries in the United States and southern Africa and now lives in Benton Harbor, Michigan. This is her first novel.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781934137062
Publisher: Bellevue Literary Press
Publication date: 01/01/2008
Pages: 192
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.60(d)

About the Author


Paula Nangle was raised by missionaries in the US and southern Africa and directly witnessed the transition of Rhodesia to Zimbabwe. She is a practicing psychiatric nurse and an advocate for patient's rights. An MFA in creative writing graduate of Western Michigan University, she has published fiction in a number of literary magazines. This is her first novel.

What People are Saying About This

Stuart Dybek

"Paula Nangle writes prose that in its elegant yet raw intensity reminds me of the poetry of Sylvia Plath. The Leper Compound will impress itself on the mind and remain with the reader long after the book has been closed."--(Stuart Dybek, 2007 MacArthur Fellow and author of I Sailed with Magellan)

J.M. Coetzee

"The Leper Compound succeeds remarkably in giving a sense of how, during the last years of white rule in southern Africa, the daily experience of ordinary people was interfused with the larger historical drama."--(J.M. Coetzee, 2003 Nobel Laureate for Literature and author of Slow Man)

Jaimy Gordon

"Nangle looks at the suffering body with a concentration that yields almost hallucinatory detail. Like Gordimer, she must witness; like Coetzee, she bows to the discipline of her own helplessness. What she writes is a stunning realism like no one else's, explosively quiet, painful, and beautiful."--(Jaimy Gordon, author of Bogeywoman)

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The Leper Compound 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
nktk on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
For me, the sign of a great book is that it not only entertains, but it also challenges and teaches me. This in turn changes me just a bit. The Leper Compound does this beautifully. This is a fictional story of Colleen, a white girl, growing up in South Africa in the eighties during severe political unrest. Her father is a coffee farmer who has been widowed and left with two young daughters. We learn Colleen¿s mother died when she was seven and her younger sister is slowly losing her mind. The story progresses from the time right after the mother dies through Colleen¿s teenage years, her time as a nurse, her marriage, and the birth of her son. This is a short book with just 192 pages, but there is an abundance of wealth in those pages, from the gorgeous writing, to the painful coming of age story of Colleen. The author of the book lived in Africa with her missionary parents growing up, and is currently a psychiatric nurse. My hope is that she can retire and spend all her time writing, because she truly has a gift and I will be first in line to read more.
JGoto on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The main setting of Paula Nangle¿s The Leper Compound is Rhodesia/Zimbabwe. Each chapter of the novel gives us a snippet in the life of Colleen, a white woman who grew up during the final years of white rule in Rhodesia. Throughout the book Colleen is an outsider who yearns to belong. There is an understated poetic quality to Nangle¿s writing that is appealing, yet she writes in the style of a detached observer. As a reader, it was disconcerting for me to read an entire book focusing on one character and to have no feeling at all for that character by the end of the book. The history of Apartheid plays an important role in the novel, and many of the references made by Nangle were confusing to someone with limited background knowledge. Of course, I could have researched the topic in order to have better understood. Unfortunately, I just wasn¿t invested enough in Colleen or her life to bother. I expected to like this book, but it just didn¿t resonate for me.
schmadeke on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
SummaryThe Leper Compound is the story of Colleen, the daughter of a European coffee farmer who grew up as an ex-patriate in Rhodesia, the country which is now Zimbabwe. When Colleen was seven, her mother died of malaria. Her only sister spent much of their childhood in and out of institutions due to mental illness; Colleen was sent to boarding school, coming home at holidays to spend time with her father. Much of the struggle to throw off British colonialism occurred during Colleen's teenage years, although she was somewhat sheltered and oblivious to the political climate. What did affect her is the racial tensions that existed in the country at the time. Colleen seemed to live her life with a foot in both worlds. She enjoyed the financial benefits of her father's position, but most of her friends and lovers were native Rhodesians. Try as Colleen might to fit into the Shona-speaking world, there always existed an unspoken divide and undeniable differences.ReviewThe Leper Compound represents Paula Nangle's debut as a novelist. Her writing style is intense, poetic, and absolutely beautiful. The book is a mere 192 pages, but don't expect to fly through it. It is best savored slowly. Every event in Colleen's life, every thought that crosses her mind seems laden with implied meaning. As the reader follows Colleen from girlhood to adulthood, sickness and disease seem to be mile markers along the path, and the events that make the strongest impression, illicit the strongest emotions from Colleen. She contracts malaria as a child. She is witness to her sister's mental illness, watches as a local teacher succombs to cancer, visits a leper compound with her boyfriend, and eventually becomes a nurse. The fact that Paula Nangle is a psychiatric nurse may account for her haunting, detailed accounts of medical situations. Nangle renders these scenes with vibrant detail that leaves a lasting image in the reader's mind.Nangle spent part of her childhood as the daughter of missionaries living in southern Africa. Her experiences there surely lend an authenticity to the story and its setting. According to her website, Nangle wrote the Leper Comound in order to recreate through fiction scenes from her childhood in Africa and her work as a nurse. She has clearly and skillfully done just that with this spare, subtle, and stunning debut.
Guest More than 1 year ago
For me, the sign of a great book is that it not only entertains, but it also challenges and teaches me. This in turn changes me just a bit. The Leper Compound does this beautifully. This is a fictional story of Colleen, a white girl, growing up in South Africa in the eighties during severe political unrest. Her father is a coffee farmer who has been widowed and left with two young daughters. We learn Colleen¿s mother died when she was seven and her younger sister is slowly losing her mind. The story progresses from the time right after the mother dies through Colleen¿s teenage years, her time as a nurse, her marriage, and the birth of her son. This is a short book with just 192 pages, but there is an abundance of wealth in those pages, from the gorgeous writing, to the painful coming of age story of Colleen. The author of the book lived in Africa with her missionary parents growing up, and is currently a psychiatric nurse. My hope is that she can retire and spend all her time writing, because she truly has a gift and I will be first in line to read more.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Leper Compound is a complicated story, passing though time and place with specific, magnetic details and very real characters. Colleen, the central character, comes of age in Rhodesia as apartheid crumbles. She's a young person searching for her own identity as the place she lives redefines its own identity. Nangle's characters are real, yet dreamlike in her writing and they move across time and situations. Unresolved and unfinished relationships complicate Colleen's life and flow though the story - a mentally ill sister, a nurse, a distant father, boarding school friends and her dead mother. Nangle's descriptive writing gives the reader the latitude to imagine the profound impact of coming of age during this time period while providing enough detail to create a story that is compelling and hard to forget.