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Monday, 18 February 2013

Book Review: Véronique Tadjo's "As The Crow Flies" (Translated by Wangũi wa Goro)

I had no idea where to begin with As The Crow Flies by Véronique Tadjo as I have very mixed feelings towards it. I'm going to be honest and say I'm not even sure if I understood it, and wondered if I should give it a second reading. In the end I decided against that, and felt that I would probably try and read it again at a later stage in my life. Maybe then, it would make more sense.  Instead, I'm going to try and give my interpretation of it, and if anyone out there has read As The Crow Flies, I would love to know your thoughts. So here it goes.

"If you want to love
Do so
To the ends of the earth
With no shortcuts
Do so
As the crow flies

Indeed I too would have loved to write one of those serene stories with a beginning and an end. As you know only too well, it is never like that, though. Lives mingle, people tame one another and part. Destinies are lost"

And so it begins. Published in French in 1986 as A vol d'osieau and translated into English by Wangũi wa Goro in 2001, As The Crow Flies includes 92 vignettes. It doesn't tell one story, but many stories and like a crow, the book swoops in at different times and places in random individual lives, only for a brief moment, to capture some aspect of their lives and particularly loves. But we don't know their names, or really who they are.

There is one common story though, which comes and goes throughout - that of a woman in love, who had an affair with a married man whose wife then found out. He is no longer in her life and she is dealing with that love loss. Other than that, there are various stories told in the first, second and third person, which I felt was also in some way about love - love for someone, love for a country, love for a city, the presence or absence of love. It took me some time to get into it, and also to get into the pattern of what was going on. And as there was the one story of the woman who had the affair, it also took me a while to figure out when a new character came in and if it was her, or someone else.

I read this a couple of weeks ago and I'm still trying to decide how I feel about it. It wasn't a bad book, far from it, but I do think with As The Crow Flies you might either get it or not, and you might either love it or not.  It's also quite random, and if you're expecting structure, there isn't much of that in this. And I am torn, because while I (think) I might have got it, and actually appreciated the randomness of it, I am not sure that I loved it. Which is also why I feel I need a second reading

So I still have very mixed feelings towards As the Crow Flies and would really love to know what others who might have read this think of it, and also if I've actually understood this book properly.

3.75 out of 5

2 comments:

  1. I had the exact same thoughts after reading! So many small vignettes in and around what I thought was a main story as well. It was confusing knowing when it changed I agree! Really interesting read though.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A big relief to know that it's not just me that found it confusing.

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