18 Aug 2016

ROOTS.

ROOTS by ALEX HALEY.

BACK COVER BLURB: The monumental saga of one man's twelve-year search for his family's origins.

The man is Alex Haley, a black American.

Through six generations of slaves and freedmen, farmers and blacksmiths, lawyers and architects, he traced his ancestry back to Africa, back to Kunta Kinte, the sixteen-year-old youth torn from his homeland and brought to torment and anguish to the slave markets of the New World.

FIRST SENTENCE {Chapter 1}: Early in the spring of 1750, in the village of Juffure, four days up-river from the coast of The Gambia, West Africa, a manchild was born to Omoro and Binta Kinte.

MEMORABLE MOMENT {Page 106/7}: 'When you return home,' said the kintango, 'you will begin to serve Juffure as its eyes and ears. You will be expected to stand guard over the village 0 beyond the gates as lookouts for toubob and other savages, and in the fields as sentries to keep the crops safe from scavengers. You will also be charged with the responsibility of inspecting the women's cooking pots - including those of your own mothers - to make sure they are kept clean, and you will be expected to reprimand them most severely if any dirt or insects are found inside.' The boys could hardly wait to begin their duties.

MY THOUGHTS: As the cover of my copy with its 'The International TV Sensation' sticker would suggest this is an old copy. A copy read many times since the 9/10 year old me first read it but probably not since I became aware of the revelations that Roots was not all I had thought it to be.

A book I'd once have recommended as a read that 'told it how it was' (or as much as the original oral storytelling as supposedly passed down by Kunta Kinte allowed anyway). If asked now I'd say read it if you so desire but only as the work of fiction it has been proven to be.

Once a favourite of mine. Now what I consider more well read than my teenage self, the passing the book off as fact, the plagiarism aside, I'm afraid Roots wasn't all I remembered it to be.

Certainly not as well written. I understand that the first portion of the book, the young Kunta's story, is a means of putting across the way of life snatched away from him but, dear oh dear, whilst in many ways (for me anyway) the most interesting part of the book, I thought it painfully drawn out.

Incredibly abrupt in parts. Seven generations. There is no overlapping. As the story of the next generation begins, there is no going back to the previous generation in order to gauge their reactions to what is now happening.

But what of the characters?

Ultimately I like to feel more than one emotion and, sadly, empathy aside, I found myself feeling relatively little else for any of the characters. Summed up, at a push I found them two-dimensional.

Read for the ...

8 comments:

Kelly said...

I remember watching the TV mini-series as a teen, but never had any real desire to read the book. I think you've confirmed my decision with your review, especially seeing that it rates as a "tome".

I almost never re-read books and I'm sorry this one didn't live up to your earlier enjoyment.

ClaudineGueh@CarryUsOffBooks said...

Have to say, I didn't enjoy the sound of this story even from the synopsis so I'll pass. Some books stay with you throughout your life but tastes and emotional needs during different life stages change. So letting go is inevitable.

Brian Joseph said...

I never read this, though I watched the original mini series a very long time ago.

It is interesting how some books that impressed us as young readers now seem to be very flawed. I suppose that many things in life are like this.

The lack of reaction from one generation to another seems like a missed literary opportunity.

kimbacaffeinate said...

I read this in my early teens, and loved it. I also enjoyed the mini-series.

Melissa (Books and Things) said...

I actually never read this one but I did see the mini. It was so long ago and I will have to watch the remake one day. I knew it wasn't a historical telling but a work of historical fiction. It does have a place in history as it got a lot of people talking about slavery that wouldn't have otherwise.

Suko said...

Tracy, thank you for sharing your honest thoughts about this book. I haven't read it, and only saw part of the mini series, long ago. I think I will keep the mini series in mind for future viewing.

Enjoy your weekend!

Melliane said...

I don't know, I'm really not sure there

Literary Feline said...

I saw the television mini-series when it came out and remember being moved by it. I can't say I ever felt the desire to read the book. I might have gotten something out of it then had I done so--but I doubt I would now, especially based on your comments.