Set in a fictional African country, Jidada, reminiscent of Zimbabwe, Glory is a satirical political allegory with Orwellian undertones. A cast of characters including an old horse, an evangelical pig and an army of violent dogs, struggle to main power in the crumbling state. When the “old horse” is ousted in a coup, the country is promised “free fair and credible” elections, bringing hope back to the disenfranchised animal communities, most of whom have only known the old horse, since he led the country to victory 40 years ago against the colonisers.
Bulawayo illustrates the corruptions of power perfectly and uses humour both to highlight the nonsensical and to make serious points. Her cast of characters include deflectors, hopefuls, the opposition and a wide spectrum of voices that create various political arguments. Its truly genius. Whilst the story is set in Jidada, with references to the politics of Zimbabwe, it is also a commentary on global politics. Social media plays a big part, with small sections of the book devoted to tweets, highlighting the voices of those abroad as well as the keyboard warriors at home. There is also a tweeting baboon in the White House.
One of the most powerful scenes in the book is when the country awaits the results of their first “free and fair” elections. As they refresh their phones they see a video of a white defender in a blue uniform attacking a fleeing unarmed black brother. “Eight shots fired at the back of the fleeing unarmed black brother. When language finally finds us it is the words of the murdered that pour out of our throats” This scene is so powerful I’m crying thinking about it.
Noviolet writes like no other. She employs tactics from across the art and mixes them deftly and expertly to create a masterpiece of modern literature. One of my favourite tactics is how she employs the use of repetition. Its poetic, dramatic and elevates the story telling to another level. I listened to the audiobook of Glory, and there were moments I actually clapped. It felt like an immersive theatre experience and I really need to commend Chipo Chung for her brilliant narration.
The story is incredibly hopeful, and throughout we are reminded “There is no night so long that it doesn’t end in dawn” So although it tackles difficult topics, political issues that are relatable globally, it is beautifully written and speaks to our resilience and our ability to overcome.
My words can’t do Glory justice. It has to be experienced. It has to be read. I borrowed a copy of the audiobook using the BorrowBox app, from my local library. I believe the paperback issue of Glory is released later this week, but I honestly urge you all to listen to the audiobook if you can get your hands on it as it is spectacular and unlike anything I have ever heard before.
Glory by Noviolet Bulawayo has been longlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2023 and it is definitely my favourite of the books I’ve read.
Let me know if you’ve read this remarkable work and what you thought in the comments below.
2 Comments Add yours
Fabulous review, this does seem like the audio was an amazing experience. I’m curious, did you read and listen, or just listen to the audio book?
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Hi Claire, I just listened. I did try reading the book a few months before borrowing the audiobook, but it just wasn’t happening for me, so I decided to return to it later. When I saw the audiobook was available I borrowed it right away, and it is stunning. It’s like a single woman theatre performance. The narrator is amazing.
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