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The Jive Talker

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336 pages


Samson Kambalu¿s father wore three-piece, London-made suits from the Sixties. He¿d planned to be a doctor but settled for hospital administration and a peripatetic lifestyle with his ever expanding family in tow. He is ¿the Jive Talker¿ of this extraordinary memoir ¿ a man of thwarted ambition, boundless optimism and manic philosophising, he died of AIDS in 1995, bequeathing his son ¿the Diptych¿ ¿ an eclectic library of science, philosophy and English language classics ­ a passion for words and a boundless imagination.
In this completely original, often subversive, book, Samson Kambalu writes of his childhood in Malawi, a country few are able to pinpoint on a map. As the family moves from feast to real poverty and deprivation, and back to plenty again, depending on their father¿s professional fortunes, we are introduced to life in a country in which no dissent is tolerated, where political opponents are ¿disappeared¿ and a portrait of Life President Dr Hastings Kamuzu Banda is always guaranteed to be watching. But this is also a country in which a little boy obsessed with books, girls, Nietzsche, fashion, football and Michael Jackson wins a free education at the Kamuzu Academy (¿The Eton of Africa¿) and grows up to be one of England¿s most promising young conceptual artists. With dazzling prose, wicked humour and not a little bit of artistic licence, The Jive Talker opens the door to an Africa that is rarely written about.



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