Read Abyssinian Chronicles by Moses Isegawa Online


An extraordinary African saga about life and death in Uganda, a coming of age story of a boy and of a country....

Title : Abyssinian Chronicles
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780330376655
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 512 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Abyssinian Chronicles Reviews

  • Harry Rutherford
    2019-04-26 10:48

    I’ve just finished Abyssinian Chronicles. Which is a bit of a relief, because I found it quite hard work. The good stuff first: it’s a story that traces a couple of generations through the history of modern Uganda, with the arrival of Idi Amin and the collapse of his regime, the sequence of messy guerilla wars, the rise of AIDS and so on. The central character is initially brought up in a village before moving to Kampala, is from a Catholic background and is educated in a rather brutal seminary; his grandmother is a midwife; he ends up leaving Uganda to move to Holland. So there’s lots of good material. And lots of striking incidents and some strong (though not generally very likeable) characters.Despite which, after reading a hundred pages, I checked to see how long the book was and had a sinking feeling when I saw there were still 400 pages to go.The problem is the prose style. Quite apart from a tendency to cliché, it seems like Isegawa reacts to similes the way a small child reacts to candy. Everything is like something. These similes are sometimes quite good in themselves — he describes a priest at the seminary as having ‘an ego as large as a cirrhotic liver’ — but I found the overall effect distracting. And it’s part of a generally over-written, shouty kind of tone the book has which I just didn’t get on with; sometimes I’d get into it and be quite absorbed for twenty or thirty pages, and then some turn of phrase would snap me out of it again.I did wonder whether it was a problem with the translation; but as far as I can tell from the title page, the book was written in English. I guess English must be the author’s second language, which is pretty impressive, but doesn’t alter the fact that I didn’t enjoy his prose.Here’s an example of the kind of paragraph that would annoy me:It struck him like a bolt of lightning splitting a tree down middle: Nakibuka! Had the woman not done her best to interest him in her life? Didn’t he, in his heart of hearts, desire her? Had he ever forgotten her sunny disposition, her sense of humor, the confident way she luxuriated in her femininity? The shaky roots of traditional decorum halted him with the warning that it was improper to desire his wife’s relative, but the mushroom of his pent-up desire had found a weak spot in the layers of hypocritical decency and pushed into the turbulent air of truth, risk, personal satisfaction, revenge. His throttled desire and his curbed sex drive could find a second wind, a resurrection or even eternal life in the bosom of the woman who, with her touch, had accessed his past, saved it and redeemed his virility on his wedding night. Sweat cascaded down his back, his heart palpitated and fire built up in his loins.200 pages of this stuff would have been harmless enough, and I might have said that, despite a few flaws, it was still well worth reading; 500 pages was too much.But I stuck it out to the end. Partially from stubbornness but mainly because I bought Abyssinian Chronicles as my book from Uganda for the Read The World challenge.

  • Katie
    2019-05-15 14:29

    In Moses Isegawa's riveting first novel, the writing is big, but the story is even bigger. It is a coming of age chronicle of post-colonial Ugandan history, as told by the narrator, who is also coming of age, Mugezi. Isegawa candidly touches on many subjects: Obote, Idi Amin, civil wars, corruption, rapes, religion, party politics, the AIDS epidemic, culture, tradition, morals, and community folklore. While much of the novel contains serious subject matter, humorous sections are abundant, and I found myself laughing out loud periodically. Early on, the author spectacularly foreshadows the deaths of two main characters, and clear parallels are drawn between the dictators of the era and the culture of the home. The text is ornate and difficult at times, but it reads like a classic. I picked out this novel, since I have traveled to Uganda, and after having read it, Isegawa is now on my list of favorite authors.

  • Dora Okeyo
    2019-05-17 09:52

    I would listen to Mugezi, the narrator of the Abyssinian Chronicles, over and over like the sound in my head when I'm at peace and in turmoil.The story begins in Uganda and ends in Amsterdam- but it is not about the geographical locations, it is about the events and experiences that shape Mugezi's life. The choices he makes, the women in his life and how religion, war, corruption influence his quest for both identity and belonging.The book is not one to be read at a sitting and it takes time to read through the experiences and adventures he has a child and also while at the seminary. I was taken by the women in this book, who stand firm and refuse to be judged by the men regarding their actions, like Aunt Lwandeka. There is also Serenity's wife, Padlock, who sticks to her reign of fear on her children through discipline and punishment and runs her household as she pleases. There were times when I was tempted to strike her off the story for being so ruthless, but I could not. Others like her aunt, Nakibuka is yielding and takes her time to charm Padlock's husband, Serenity-and it is these depictions of such conviction in the women that I came to admire. (I could definitely learn a thing or two about writing such characters)I would travel with Mugezi again on his journey.

  • Bettie☯
    2019-05-22 13:55

    Opening sentence - Three final images flashed across Serenity's mind as he disappeared into the jaws of the colossal crocodile: a rotting buffalo with rivers of maggots and armies of flies emanating from its cavities; the aunt of his missing wife, who was also his longtime lover; and the mysterious woman who had cured his childhood obsession with tall women.There is no reference as to whom the translator might be, neither is there a dedication.halfway mark and I must remark on a few thoughts so far:- more holes than a pack of polo mints- over familiarity towards the reader and that as we know fuels contempt- I have a problem with the title as the story relates to Uganda *shrugs*The End and thank goodness. Not so bad that I could have fun flaying its hide however it was a long drag for little return.

  • nicebutnubbly
    2019-05-23 17:47

    This was billed as the Great Ugandan Novel and reviewers kept comparing Isegawa to Rushdie and Marquez. Not so, my friends. There are enough technical issues with the writing that it took me fifty pages in to really figure out who was who, and another hundred to give a shit at all. I mean, it may still be the Great Ugandan Novel - and it certainly shares the national family epic genre with Rushdie and Marquez - but so far it's more of a mildly scatological Bildungsroman. Still interesting - but not what I had hoped for at all. Bit of a slog, frankly.

  • Rachel
    2019-05-19 17:56

    First class lesson on Uganda's history following independence. I find the last bit of the book (Mugezi's story after his stint in the army) too rushed, and also did not quite get where he got married and divorced, as is mentioned on the blurb...

  • Wim Schalenbourg
    2019-05-21 15:46

    Fascinating book that reveals modern history and cultural features of Uganda. I really enjoyed.

  • Katherine
    2019-04-27 16:35

    I didn't anticipate I would take so long to read this book, but ultimately it did take me six months to get through it. It wasn't that the story wasn't fascinating - a saga of a family in Uganda - I believe it was the writing style. The writing could be too descriptive at some points and at others it felt there were too many sentences to describe one point that it became a little too much to bear. In any case, this was not a page-turner YET every time I would pick it up, I was curious about the story and would read several pages. Another generational saga that is narrated by the character Mugezi who comes from a hard-core Catholic family. At least his mother is. Padlock, the mother, as very religious she is, is also quite a horrible mother who mistrusts Mugezi and treats him horribly. Mugezi's father, Serenity, is not so conservative, and in fact starts an affair with Padlock's aunt from the day of their marriage. The book follows both families, before Mugezi's parents gets married and throughout different political periods in Uganda, including Idi Amin's dictatorship and Obote's government. One of the most memorable sections for me was Mugezi's time in seminary school, as his father wanted him to study to be a priest. This section showcased natural leadership and savvy in Mugezi that I don't see again in the rest of the story. Ultimately Mugezi goes to Holland, and settles his life there, leaving his whole history behind in Uganda.There were many stories within this one story, and if the writing style was more polished, it might have brought together in one beautiful flow. Maybe, a better editor next time?

  • Daniel Simmons
    2019-05-20 16:54

    A crazyquilt of familial and political storytelling that adds up to... what, exactly? Isegawa offers up some great set pieces (the chapter on main character Mugezi's seminary schooling is a particular highlight), but I found myself grasping at straws for a sense of the author's overall plan. Or IS there a plan? Example: a variety of characters fall victim to gruesome encounters with wild animals (a puff adder, a buffalo, a crocodile)... for what purpose? To emphasize the randomness of fate? Nature's callous intervention into the pitiful destiny-driven plans of human beings? Or just to add some narrative color? At the end of the novel, I was left wondering: what's the next step for Mugezi? And then wondering even more: did I even care? Isegawa's an exuberant writer but this novel could have used a stricter editor to trim the excessive word count and lend some additional structure to all the vivid substance on display in these pages.

  • Rita
    2019-05-18 10:51

    *** and 1/2 is my actual rating. This is a generational story about a Catholic Ugandan family. Mugezi takes us through his childhood being raised by a cruel religious fanatic mother, his days in seminary where abuse of power persisted, life during the Amin torturous regime, guerilla warfare and Aids, all taking away people precious to him. I found turning to a map of Uganda while reading gave me a sense of place (smart phone worked great!)Recognizing that the author, Moses Isegawa, is writing in his second language makes the reader appreciate all the rather humorous similes rather than judge them negatively. I did have difficulty returning to the storyline. I guess it was the knowledge that more pain and loss was yet to come. I learned much history and turned the last page being grateful for where I live and how I have been able to live!

  • Natalie
    2019-05-06 12:57

    Een mooi verhaal. De schrijver weet een beeld te schetsen van een land waar ik eigenlijk niets van af weet. Wat ik goed vind is dat de schrijver van vertelperspectief wisselt. Het verhaal wordt verteld door Moegezi (ik-vorm). Maar Isegawa weet op een handige manier ook de rest van de familie het woord te geven (personale vertelperspectief). Zo krijg je als lezer een goed beeld van het leven in Oeganda. Maar er zijn meer goede punten aan te wijzen: hoe een familie min of meer uiteenvalt door oorlog en ziekte, de continue strijd om te overleven en een bestaan op te bouwen. Corruptie viert hoogtij. In de laatste hoofdstukken beschrijft Isegawa de Bijlmermeer: drugs, criminaliteit en illegaliteit.Het boek stemt mij tot nadenken. Prachtig.

  • Ishita
    2019-05-11 13:49

    A sample from Isegawa's literature - "given an ear, her mouth loosened and grief flowed out with the sinuousness of a sloughing serpent". Isegawa's words flow somewhat similarly. For a debut novel, he puts up a magnificent show of how he can write, and write he can. But somewhere along the narrative, Isegawa loses his vision. What started off as a brilliant analogy between the protagonist's own small world and Amin's larger than life times, soon degrades into a narrative of everything and anything about Uganda (and its diaspora). Indeed, he most graciously even acknowledges his sources. The culmination tries haphazardly to tie the loose ends of the curious title, some of the character's sudden and abrupt detours, and a most incongruous end. Pity. Because Isegawa was just almost in.

  • Martyn F
    2019-04-28 13:52

    It's different than other books. And that's good in this case. It's interesting from a historical point of view. The characters are also interesting. There are a lot of them, though. And some turn up to never be heard from again.Moses Isegawa is brutally honest. Describes everything from children bleeding out to rape and murder. Sometimes he repeats himself. And his story is not exactly fast paced.The main thing that lacked for me, I think, is that this is not so much a story as a life described with a lot of side steps to other characters and (recent) history.

  • Val
    2019-05-18 10:54

    "Abyssinian Chronicles" is the chronicle of a family and of Uganda, with power struggles, disasters and small triumphs. It is well conceived and tells the interlocking stories of family and country in an interesting way.The only problem is that the author is a little bit too much in love with the English language and what he can do with it; he has a simile for everything. It gets a little wearing to read after a while, unless you share his love of reveling in every image like a flea-bitten dog in a fresh deposit of cow dung.

  • Teo
    2019-05-04 16:44

    Abyssinian Chronicles picks up steam after the first book, with humorous confrontations between Mugezi and authority figures, and rumbles along for the next four hundred pages. The writing is peppered with evocative phrases and paragraphs, many of which shine brighter when the reader knows something about Uganda. Transitions between the bildungsroman and the national context become more seamless as the novel progresses and, happily, Isegawa avoids just shaping his characters around historical events. The novel does drag at times, though, and might be best read in small doses.

  • Jamie
    2019-05-12 11:27

    A great portrayal of life in Uganda, capturing well the chaos and serenity that wash like waves over the actions of people each day. The book also provides valuable insights into what life was like under Idi Amin's rule. The story however lacked heart, humor, compassion and love. I feel there is much hope and optimism embodied in the Ugandan culture and people and no account can be considered complete without capturing this spirit.

  • Aprille
    2019-05-03 15:57

    Book #23 of 2008. Traces the chaotic life of Mugezi, a guy growing up in Uganda, from the end of colonialism through the reign of Idi Amin and rebel government after rebel government, into the era of AIDS. I was struck by the ways in which the various elements of Ugandan society needed to transform themselves, and how often, in order to survive the latest crisis. Powerful, if a bit dry and dull in spots.

  • Sally
    2019-05-08 14:48

    I read books about modern Africa trying to figure out how humans survive lives so filled with losses. Uganda's history is so gruesome that I was halfway through this book before I realized that there was, after all, some humor. Humor and a resilience that I fear has been bred out of America's gene pool. Isegawa's writing is wonderfully colorful, packed with seemingly effortless similies and metaphors that would have earned A+ from Mrs. Adamson, my high school senior comp. teacher.

  • Sarah
    2019-05-21 13:41

    Excellent took a trip through Uganda from the 60's through to the 80's following the story of the narrator Mugezi his coming of age story during the time of Idi Amin's reign and fall.This book will have you literally laughing out loud well it did with me anyway and then next minute it will move you to tears.This is Moses Isegawa's first novel and it is very impressive so much so I was sad when it came to the end, I will definitely be reading more from this author.

  • J. Trott
    2019-05-26 09:57

    This book features a cunning hero who bounces through life with gentle attention to his dick and stomach, and generally a laize faire attitude toward everything else, including his country, Uganda, which is getting ripped apart by Abote and Amin. While he's not super likable to me he taught me a lot about the survivalist values of a Ugandan.

  • Sonya
    2019-05-15 15:43

    I liked this novel, which is set in Uganda during the Amin and Obote years. This is also the time when AIDS came on the scene in Uganda. The story takes a while to get into it and it's pretty long, but I recommend it, especially for those who have spent time in Uganda or have an interest in the country.

  • Hellen
    2019-04-26 14:54

    I'd give 3.5 stars. It was a good book, but a bit too long. It's fiction, but it gave me sense of the corruption of the government and the suffering of the local people during Idi Amin's dictatorship.

  • SL Wong
    2019-05-20 10:43

    I read it while I was studying in Uganda. There are so many interesting parts of the story, but it tends to feel as long as it is, often dragging and adding in anecdotes that don't match the progression of the story.

  • NoBeatenPath
    2019-05-10 12:49

    The coming of age story of a man who grew up through the greatest horrors of Ugandan history. At times depressing, but ultimately hopeful, a spectacular debut novel from a talented writer. You are sure to be carried along by Mugezi's story

  • Kaper
    2019-05-12 17:51

    the horrors of the Obote regime, then Amin, Obote again, then AIDS - like falling into an abyss where each time the worse seems over, a further abyss opens up underneath. Such is the Uganda in which this remarkable novel is set.

  • Lois
    2019-05-01 11:31

    I find myself migrating away from this book to read something a little more compelling. I want to love this book because I was so moved by the people of Uganda. But find myself working harder than I want while reading.

  • Geert Vissers
    2019-05-13 09:30

    Wonderful book. Breathtaking account of Uganda history. Obote, Amin, and the wars that were fought. But in the end also a nice, almost anthropological sketch of Amsterdam, seen through the eyes of a young guy from Africa.

  • César Lasso
    2019-05-20 17:36

    Em Portugal é bastante habitual ler livros de literatura africana em língua portuguesa (Angola, Moçambique...) mas não é assim tão frequente debruçar-se sobre outras literaturas do Continente Negro. Eis um livro interessante e divertido que retrata o Uganda da segunda metade do século XX.

  • Fred Rose
    2019-05-13 11:38

    Couldn't finish this. I read it on a trip to Uganda but it just didn't make sense. The story and characters just didn't hold my interest. I made it halfway and just couldn't work up any interest to finish.

  • Lauren
    2019-05-20 11:56

    Very intense book. Parts of it are spellbinding but others seem to wander or seem out of place. Recommended.