The Unheard: A Memoir of Deafness and Africa

The Unheard: A Memoir of Deafness and Africa

by Josh Swiller
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The Unheard: A Memoir of Deafness and Africa 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
A_Sloan More than 1 year ago
First, let me say, this is a good book. Josh is a fine writer and a good, even excellent, storyteller. I read it quickly and eagerly, finishing it up on a flight back from Nambia. If there were any other dissenting reviews, I probably would have rated it more stars, but I did want to post a review that let potential readers know of some of the book's shortcomings. So what's the issues. Mainly, Josh comes off as a bit immature in this (in fairness to him, he was young when he writes it). I really appreciated his willingness to expose his flaws and admit to blunders or bull-headness, but the truth his, his lack of tact almost led to a couple people (himself being one of them) being killed. It's great that he was/is willing to stand up for his beliefs and comes off as a solid very good guy, but ineffective. He doesn't offer any reflections on that failure, only seemingly able to blame Africans for their caving to the village strong men. Nor does he offer any analysis or reflection on why he didn't ultimately get killed (I'm not ruining any plot elements here as the book opens with his life being threatened, and given he ultimately wrote the book, you kind of figure he wasn't killed from the get go): "Why the crowd didn't press forward and finish us off when they had the chance has never been clear to me, but I suppose for that moment they were just as afraid as we were." Seems to me he could have done more reflection that that. It's hard not to image that his race played a role; if he'd been a black African, odds are he would have been killed. That could have been a jumping off point. The story stands on its own and is powerful, but Josh tends to avoid reflection, particularly if they don't directly involve him. Again with this criticism, I'm not dissing the book's overall value--especially if you are traveling to the region--but focusing on what keeps it from soaring. I can't help compare it to some of my favorite travel memoirs (from different parts of the world) that do satisfy on several levels, such as Arctic Adventure: My Life in the Frozen North which is written by an early 20th century explorer/trader who lived among Eskimos for 15 years (and took an Eskimo wife) and really gets to understand the people and their fascinating way of life and Stranger in the Forest: On Foot Across Borneo which was written by a master traveler, who really knows how to get involved in the cultural life of the people he visited.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
pjpick More than 1 year ago
A very interesting look at the Peace Corps, Africa, and deafness from a deaf volunteer. It was funny, scary, touching, and horrific all in one story. If you want to check out the follow-up the author has a website listed at the end of the book that discusses how he found his best friend again. It took a little while to get into but after about the first half of the book I couldn't put it down.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago