28 12 / 2011

Let me get straight to the point: this book was agonizing. I didn’t finish it before my book club met to discuss because it was just too painful to breeze through. It wasn’t a difficult read because of the writing style. In fact, the the style was easy and quite elementary. The substance, though, was a hard pill to swallow. A hard pill with sharp, dry, jagged edges.

The story is of Mende Nazer, who, while living a somewhat happy and spoiled life in her Nuba village in Northern Africa (save for the intensely detailed female circumcision she endured…be still my heart), was kidnapped and sold into slavery by Arab soldiers who raided her village. She spent her teen and young adult years living as a slave in Sudan’s capital city, Khartoum. The memoir shares with us horrible years toiling away in ghastly conditions with no contact with her family, no wages, and no freedom, until her harrowing escape.

Not a good read for the holidays. I think that her story of escape was amazing though, and the issues between Black Africans and Arabs in Sudan were shocking to me, so I am grateful for the knowledge of the horrific relations in this country. But the story is something I would never pick up or recommend to anyone because it was so heartwrenching. I had to put the book down multiple times and just walk away for fear of my soul being destroyed while reading the story of Mende’s life.

This is not for the faint of heart. Even though it was eye opening, and people need to know of these personal experiences so that change can come, I abhor reading books like this. It is nearly impossible for me to give this book a high rating.

I’d prefer not to recommend this book, but if I had to, I’d suggest it to those interested in the Sudanese slave trade, or interested in village life in Northern Africa, especially the Nuba people.

Grade: D

01 12 / 2011

Slave: My True Story by Mende Nazer is my book club's December Literary Selection.

Mende Nazer lost her childhood at age twelve, when she was sold into slavery. It all began one horrific night in 1993, when Arab raiders swept through her Nuba village, murdering the adults and rounding up thirty-one children, including Mende.Mende was sold to a wealthy Arab family who lived in Sudan’s capital city, Khartoum. So began her dark years of enslavement. Her Arab owners called her “Yebit,” or “black slave.” She called them “master.” She was subjected to appalling physical, sexual, and mental abuse. She slept in a shed and ate the family leftovers like a dog. She had no rights, no freedom, and no life of her own.Normally, Mende’s story never would have come to light. But seven years after she was seized and sold into slavery, she was sent to work for another master—a diplomat working in the United Kingdom. In London, she managed to make contact with other Sudanese, who took pity on her. In September 2000, she made a dramatic break for freedom.Slave is a story almost beyond belief. It depicts the strength and dignity of the Nuba tribe. It recounts the savage way in which the Nuba and their ancient culture are being destroyed by a secret modern-day trade in slaves. Most of all, it is a remarkable testimony to one young woman’s unbreakable spirit and tremendous courage.


I hate reading sad books, especially when they are based on a true story, and especially when I’m dealing with sadness in my own life. Books are usually my escape.
I will suck it up though, since as president I make sure that I read every book and participate in every discussion. The bright side is our Holiday Social, which we have every December.  It’s just a way to celebrate the end of the year together as a book club. It’s also a good excuse to eat, drink, and be merry.
We also decided to add a gift exchange to this years’ festivities. Each member is asked to bring a new copy of their favorite book, gift wrapped, and they will be swapped when we pick names at our meeting. I’m excited about that.
I’ll be starting our book club selection in two weeks, as soon as I finish Toni Morrison’s Paradise, and James Baldwin’s Go Tell It On The Mountain.

Slave: My True Story by Mende Nazer is my book club's December Literary Selection.

Mende Nazer lost her childhood at age twelve, when she was sold into slavery. It all began one horrific night in 1993, when Arab raiders swept through her Nuba village, murdering the adults and rounding up thirty-one children, including Mende.

Mende was sold to a wealthy Arab family who lived in Sudan’s capital city, Khartoum. So began her dark years of enslavement. Her Arab owners called her “Yebit,” or “black slave.” She called them “master.” She was subjected to appalling physical, sexual, and mental abuse. She slept in a shed and ate the family leftovers like a dog. She had no rights, no freedom, and no life of her own.

Normally, Mende’s story never would have come to light. But seven years after she was seized and sold into slavery, she was sent to work for another master—a diplomat working in the United Kingdom. In London, she managed to make contact with other Sudanese, who took pity on her. In September 2000, she made a dramatic break for freedom.

Slave is a story almost beyond belief. It depicts the strength and dignity of the Nuba tribe. It recounts the savage way in which the Nuba and their ancient culture are being destroyed by a secret modern-day trade in slaves. Most of all, it is a remarkable testimony to one young woman’s unbreakable spirit and tremendous courage.

I hate reading sad books, especially when they are based on a true story, and especially when I’m dealing with sadness in my own life. Books are usually my escape.

I will suck it up though, since as president I make sure that I read every book and participate in every discussion. The bright side is our Holiday Social, which we have every December.  It’s just a way to celebrate the end of the year together as a book club. It’s also a good excuse to eat, drink, and be merry.

We also decided to add a gift exchange to this years’ festivities. Each member is asked to bring a new copy of their favorite book, gift wrapped, and they will be swapped when we pick names at our meeting. I’m excited about that.

I’ll be starting our book club selection in two weeks, as soon as I finish Toni Morrison’s Paradise, and James Baldwin’s Go Tell It On The Mountain.