Alexandra Fuller, author of the national bestseller Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight, will speak about her latest title, Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness, at the Main Library Auditorium at 7:00 p.m. on Friday, August 26. The event, cosponsored by The City Library and Sam Weller’s Bookstore, will provide audience members an intimate look at Fuller’s family’s experience in Africa, focusing on her mother.
“People often ask why my parents haven’t left Africa. Simply put, they have been possessed by this land. Land is Mum’s love affair and it’s Dad’s religion. When he walks from the camp under the Tree of Forgetfulness to the river and back again, he is pacing a lifelong, sacred commitment to all soil learned at childhood.” -- Alexandra Fuller in Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness
About Fuller’s Books (from the publisher)
In her critically acclaimed debut memoir, Don’t Lets Go to the Dogs Tonight: An African Childhood, Alexandra Fuller recalled in vivid, often excruciating detail coming of age in Rhodesia as a long civil war raged in neighboring Monzambique. With astounding candor and in wry, sometimes hilarious prose, she described from a girl’s point of view a wild landscape of far-reaching beauty and a continent in the throes of a vicious political antagonism she could not yet comprehend.
In Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness (The Penguin Press; August 18, 2011), Fuller returns to the place of her childhood in both a prequel and sequel to Dogs that tells more of her family’s story, namely that of her mother, Nicola Fuller of Central Africa, “surely one of the most memorable characters of African memoir” (New York Times Book Review). With unflinching honesty and humor, Fuller reveals Nicola in all of her complexity, and captures her inimitable voice with remarkable precision.
Born on the Scottish Isle of Skye and raised in Kenya, Nicola’s unconventional early years spring to life. Here we meet her closest childhood friend Stephen Foster (a chimpanzee), and witness her plucky spirit as she rides a donkey named Suk to convent school. We see her come of age during the Mau Mau uprising, and meet her future husband, the rugged wanderer Tim Fuller, who was in Kenya for just two weeks before seeing Nicola at the Nairobi airport and proposing to her less than a month later. And we marvel at the sense of adventure and stark fearlessness of this couple during their honeymoon years, drawn together by their love of and allegiance to this untamed land.
Alternating between past and present, Fuller recalls her own childhood—priceless anecdotes such as her mother nicknaming her Bobo because she thought she looked like a little baboon, as well as the perilous years after the family moved from a brief stay in her father’s native England to the Burma Valley near war-torn Rhodesia. She reveals the vast hardships they endured to protect their farm against frequent ambushes and Nicola’s raw anguish and unraveling after the death of three of her five children in this unforgiving terrain. Yet Fuller’s gift is in capturing the absurdities amidst the chaos and her mother’s endearing whims despite her sorrows—from carting an Uzi in her Land Rover and clinging to her cherished Le Creuset pots, to piloting a plane while singing “Fly Me to the Moon” and declaring, “Drought!” whenever her cocktails ran dry.
At the close of Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness, Fuller brings her story full circle as she describes a recent reunion, sitting with her parents and sister under the Tree of Forgetfulness referenced in her book’s title. Located on her parents’ fish and banana farm on the Lower Zambezi River where they now live, the tree has long been known as the place for villagers to speak to the spirits of the dead and resolve disputes. Similarly, Fuller’s enthralling narrative summons the ghosts of her family’s past while embracing a place and lives unlike any others.
About Alexandra Fuller (from the publisher) Alexandra Fuller has written four books of non-fiction. Her debut book, Don’t Lets Go to the Dogs Tonight (Random House, 2001), was a national bestseller, a New York Times Notable Book of 2002, the 2002 Booksense best non-fiction book, a finalist for the Guardian First Book Award, and the winner of the 2002 Winifred Holtby Memorial Prize.
Her 2004 book, Scribbling the Cat: Travels with an African Soldier (Penguin Press), was on the New York Times Extended Bestseller List and won the Ulysses Prize for Art of Reportage.
The Legend of Colton H. Bryant, the biography of a young Wyoming oil rig worker who fell to his death, was published in May 2008 by Penguin Press and was a Toronto Globe and Mail Best Non-Fiction Book of 2008.
Her latest book, Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness, will be published by Penguin Press on August 18, 2011.
Fuller has also written extensively for magazines and newspapers, including The New Yorker, National Geographic, Vogue and Granta Magazine.
Fuller was born in England in 1969. In 1972, she moved with her family to a farm in Rhodesia. After that country’s civil war in 1981, the Fullers moved first to Malawi, then to Zambia. She received a B.A. in English literature from Acadia University in Nova Scotia, Canada.
In 1993, Fuller married an American river guide in Zambia in 1993. They left Africa in 1994 and now live in Wyoming with three children.
Location: Main Library Auditorium
Contact Information: (801) 524-8200