Friday, September 18, 2009
"So Long a Letter" by Mariama Ba is a spectacular book. Ramatoulaye is a widow when the novel begins. We meet her while she is in mourning. Soon, we learn about the other sorrows of her heart. Times throughout which she cried and cried. Her healing strength comes through writing this letter to Aissatou. Because the friendship means so much to her Ramatoulaye names her daughter after Aissatou. I thought this was a beautiful way of showing appreciation for a friend who always had a listening ear and a nonjudgmental heart.
In this letter to Aissatou, Ramatoulaye gives details about her marriage to Madou Fall. This lengthy letter is like a flashback in time. Both Aissatou and Ramatoulaye faced the identical situation with their men. Each woman chose a different way to handle their new circumstances. Still, neither woman judges the other woman.
I adored the book for so many reasons. I loved the friendship between the two African women. I enjoyed learning about the West African culture and I liked learning more about the African male. At the last page, I had my pen ready to write down other titles by Mariama Ba. Unfortunately, this is her first and last novel. "Ba died tragically in 1981 in Dakar after a long illness, just before her second novel Le Chant Ecarlate appeared. "So Long A Letter" by Mariamb Ba is translated from the French by Modupe Bode-Thomas.
If anyone can translate the French phrase, I would appreciate knowing the name of the novel in English.
Posted by Tea norman at 12:35 PM
"In "A Mercy" there are people who have known what it's like not to be loved and those who have known love. There is Sir, Rebekkah, Lina, Florens, Sorrow, Twin, the freed blacksmith and more characters. Each character's life is a memorable story, a book in itself.
In the Seventeenth century religion was around every corner: Baptists, Anabaptists, Separatists, Presbyterians, Catholics and Protestants and also the secret, foreign gods of the slaves. With all this religion, there is also deep hatred, feelings of superiority and greed. These feelings lead to evil bartering for flesh. Other time these other emotions lead to a clinging together becoming as one like in a marriage until each person gains the strength to survive in this new world.
Jacob Vaark is one of the few men who hates the selling of human flesh like chattel. His presence gave me a sense of safe relief. His death made me sad. Born a orphan he sympathized with other needy human beings no matter the color. Perhaps, it's his lack of a real home that leads him to build more than one home for himself looking for a spiritual security. Looking for a place where he can give and receive love.
I favored some characters in "A Mercy." I favored Sorrow. Her life is the one I will remember. Sorrow changes her name after the birth of a daughter. She changes her name to Complete. Wow! That was so powerful for me. I can't tell the story here without spoiling it. At the end of the book I felt complete. I had also witnessed A Mercy.
I feel honored just trying to write a review of Toni Morrison's book. The book, the plot is swollen with wisdom and beauty. I remember the words "motherlove." Oh, how can I stop sharing this book? With Toni Morrison book, there isn't an ending. There is just a resting place. Her book "A Mercy" is as refreshing as water from a rolling brook in the mountains. Thank you Toni Morrison. May you live a long life always with a pen and paper nearby.