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Always Another Country: A Memoir of Exile and Home by Sisonke Msimang [in Booklist]

Before personal and political events finally allowed her to go “home” to South Africa, Sisonke Msimang spent her first 20-plus years in peripatetic exile. Born in Zambia, Msimang and her two younger sisters were “raised on a diet of communist propaganda and schooled in radical Africanist discourse, in the shadows of [their] father’s hope and [their] mother’s practicality.”

As “freedom fighters,” Msimang’s parents kept the family mobile, migrating to Kenya, Canada, back to Kenya, and Ethiopia, before arriving in South Africa after Nelson Mandela’s release from prison, the ANC’s rise to power, and the end of apartheid. Beyond a short visit in 1990, Msimang didn’t live in South Africa until after college and a first-love-fueled rebellion that took her briefly to Oakland.

Her country’s freedom comes with confrontation, responsibility, disillusionment, violence, and, for her, the painful recognition of her own educated, elite privilege. Hauntingly raw (her sexual assault at age 7) and unblinkingly honest (her lingering hatred of a school bully), Msimang’s memoir and first book recounts the intimate, inspiring, tumultuous journey of a woman “piecing [herself] back together.”

Review: “Nonfiction,” Booklist Online, July 13, 2018

Readers: Adult

Published: 2017 (South Africa), 2018 (United States)


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