Tuesday, May 29, 2007

28 Stories of AIDS in Africa by Stephanie Nolen,"Away From Her" and the winners of the booksprice.com prize.

Category: Current Affairs - International, Political;

Format: Hardcover, 416 pages

Publisher: Knopf Canada

Pub Date: April 24, 2007

Price: $34.95

Author's Website: www.28stories.com

Globe and Mail special feature on

A is for AIDS; B is for beautiful; C is for Chinua Achebe; D is for diamonds and E is for the high cheek-boned Ethiopians....Africa is known for many things, but the one issue Africa needs the world to know about right now is that there are 28 million HIV-infected people in Africa (800 people die of AIDS everyday in Africa) and unless something is done it is going to ravage the continent. Yes, I know about donor fatigue and numbing, I suffered from it too, but if you read this book of 28 Stories (one story for every million sufferers) you will change your heart and mind.

The author of these stirring 28 stories is Stephanie Nolen, the Globe and Mail's Africa correspondent and indeed perhaps the lone reporter in the world to report solely on AIDS . There are two groups of people in this book, the ones whose stories are told because they impart political, medical, social, physiological and economic information about the disease which is necessary for the reader to know and understand and the others are stories of people actually known to the author, people who are went public with their HIV diagnosis and have become activists for other sufferers in Africa.

For more information on the 28 people that inspired this book please go to Stephanie Nolen's website to read about these people, some of them even have video clips. Among my favorite stories are those of Tgist Haile Michael the 14-year old orphan from a slum in Addis Ababa who was left to take care of her 7-year old brother Johannes all by herself after both parents died from AIDS and Moleen Modimu a 31-year old wife and mother dying from AIDS in Zimbabwe even though the corner pharmaceutical store has the retro-virals she needs. Mugabe's government has made it virtually impossible for any African to afford the treatment they need.
(AIDS activists demonstrate outside South Africa's Parliament in Cape Town in a Reuters file photo)

This book will get you to ask many questions of yourself and your friends, the most important one being...what can we do to lighten Africa's AIDS burden? What is it the people need? A helping hand with the eradication of poverty will go a long way, but they also need funding for schools because, in the end, education is going to be the one big thing that will make Africans want to protect themselves against this virus. Also, women's rights need to be enforced, they need to have legal protection against risky sex forced upon them by male partners or economic depression, financial independence from men should also be encouraged. This is very important when you realize that women make up 75 percent of HIV-positive Africans aged between 15-25.

Nolen's book provides a comprehensive list of AIDS care and treatment organizations in Africa and elsewhere, contact them, learn more and make the difference you know you can!

This book is the second book of the Non-Fiction challenge.

Saw a truly delightful movie on the weekend titled
"Away From Her". Like the movie suggested in its promotional literature, it was a love story for grown ups. In this case the grown ups were the beautiful Julie Christie and the handsome Gordon Pinsent whose 44 year old marriage, or should I say love story, is put to the test when Christie succumbs to Alzheimer's. The movie was made by the young Canadian Sarah Polley and based on Alice Munro's short story, "The Bear Came Over The Mountain". For a truly splendid "not a review" allow me to direct you to Sanjay's Karmic Musings.

Last, but not least, we have the winners of the booklottery from booksprice.com
it's Bellezza from "DolceBellezza" and J from Jellyjules.com. Congratulations, do let me know which book you would like and I will e-mail you for your address either today or tomorrow. A big "Thank you" to everyone that participated and all the book purchasing options you gave me, you made it so interesting and so much fun! There will be more opportunities to win books, so stay tuned!


J at www.jellyjules.com said...

Wow...I hope I am strong enough to read the book about AIDS, but I'm not sure I have the strength. The desperation is immense, and the culture in many ways does nothing to help it. Our culture, their culture, all cultures. Sigh.

Yay! I won a prize! What titles do I have to choose from?

Asha said...

28 stories sounds interesting although I would hesitate read about real stories of so much tragedy.I know I live in self made "happy" world!I don't think I WANT to handle all those stories.I am a coward!!

J at www.jellyjules.com said...

OK, I just looked and saw where the list of books has expanded...I would love to have, "My Name is Red". Thanks so much for putting this on! Fun!

Sanjay said...

Lotus.. Lovely review of a book that deals with a truly devastating disease.
Your excellent writeup brings home to us the breadth of the AIDS epidemic across that amazing continent that should be known for more that famine, disease and strife.
I would love to read this book but am not sure when I can :-/. But thank you very much for telling us about it, I loved reading what you have to say.
Those stats are shocking and it is sad how misplaced our priorities are.
I heard this amazing and touching audio diary at NPR of Thembi Ngubane who lives in one of the S.Africa's largest townships. She is also living with Aids. I may mentioned her in one of my previous comments here, sorry if this is a repeat.

I will check out Stephanie Nolan's website as well.

I am glad you enjoyed "Away From Her", it truly was a movie that stayed with the viewer long after one leaves the theater. And thank you for the link. :-)

And congratulations to Bellezza and J for winning the book lottery!

Again thank you for a thought provoking post.

Sanjay said...

Also want to say thank you for your very nice words about my "not a review" for "Away from her" . :-)

Bellezza said...

Lotus, hearing this happy news of winning is like an enormous balm poured over my soul. You have no idea how much this gift encourages me, at a rather low point in my year to say the least. I just bought Water for Elephants, which everyone says is incredible, so I opt for My Name is Red or The Road. I thoroughly enjoyed Pamuk's novel "Snow" and I always am interested in Pulitzer Prize winners...I guess I'll go with My Name is Red. Then, I'll try to write a beautiful post. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart. XOXO

Literary Feline said...

Nonfiction is often easier for me to read when it comes in short story or essay format. I'm not sure why. And so that is one thing that immediately attracts me to this particular book. Another, of course, and more importantly, is the topic. It's devestating, the spread and impact of AIDS in Africa. This is definitely one book I would like to read in the near future. Thanks for the wonderful review, Lotus.

gautami tripathy said...

India is following. The govt is sleeping. HIV/AIDS needs to be dwelt with but no one seems to care here. Our govt seems to think closing our eyes would solve the problem.

I have ordered this book. It should arrive any time soon. Thanks for the review. Very timely too.

I am on a spree of reading non-fiction. Next I will post a review on "The Places In Between" by Rory Stewart. Already read it.

equiano said...

Thanks Lotus, I didn't know about this book (I've done a bit of research and discovered it came out in the UK this week, but I haven't seen it anywhere on display yet, not really surprising). I am really pleased to hear about it and look forward to tracking down a copy.

Lotus Reads said...

@J ~ Congratulations again! My 16-year old picked your name out of the hat! :) I will ask booksprice.com to mail you "My Names is Red", would you please send me your mailing address J? Thank you.

I know what you mean about culture getting in the way. I am sure polygamy practised by more than a few countries in Africa adds to the problems with AIDS, also the fact that women are just chattel there. Other problems are the migrant workers (mostly those working in the mines and away from home and truck drivers). Let's also not forget the civil wars and the accompanying brutal rapes which I am sure have played a significant part in the spread of AIDS.

@Asha ~ Nah, you're no coward. You just have to read stuff that falls in your comfort zone, nothing wrong with that!

Lotus Reads said...

@Sanjay ~ Thank you for appreciatinng the review so much! I felt I could have done a lot more but there was so much powerful material in this book that frankly I didn't know where to start or stop!

I have always been an advocate for looking at the positive side of Africa. I have always wanted to leave AIDS, famine, child soldiers and other negative stuff behind and focus on the the good things of Africa, but sometimes that is not possible. When I see how the west has brought its AIDS problem under control, I want Africa to be able to do the same. I think this book really does raise one's awareness and just for that I would like everyone to know about it. Thank you for the NPR link, I am not sure if it is a repeat or not, I will go look at it now. Thanks again Sanjay!

Lotus Reads said...

@Bellezza~ Congratulations again! Your name was picked out of the hat by my 12-year old ( I had my girls pick one name each). I am so glad the prize makes you happy! I am going to forward your address to booksprice and they will send you either the Pamuk book or the "The Road", I hope you enjoy the book Bellezza and I sure hope the second half of this year is a better one for you. *hugs*

@Wendy~ You're absolutely right about short stories making a non-fiction read that much easier. I am reading another book right now about refugees, it's called "Human Cargo" and it would have been a really heavy book had it not been divided into these truly wonderful stories. So glad you enjoyed this review Wendy, how nice of you to leave a comment. Appreciate it!

Olivia said...

You know, at the moment I live on a street that has a library at the end of it, yet I still insist on buying books and borrowing DVDs.

See, I was going to say that where I am moving to soon is literally *across the road* from a library...will I stop buying books and start reading from the long list of recommendations I have accumulated? Or just borrow more DVDs?...I suspect the latter ;)

I am very very naughty, and probably the only reader of your blog who hasn't read any of these offerings!!! I did nearly borrow the film with Ayshwarya (?) about the girl and the spices and the lover but haven't been back to the library since then...

Laura said...

Sometimes I think we were separated at birth!!! Both of these works are on my immediate radar right now. I saw this book last weekend and thought about getting it, if I would have known you were reading it I would have. I will be getting it soon though.

and that movie....I really want to see that!!!! True Confession: Mike and I were near the movie theater where that was playing last Monday, but instead we chose to lolligag in three different bookstores all day long!!!

Laura said...

oh, and A Thousand Splendid Suns is REALLY GOOD!!! I cannot put it down. I really need to learn more about Afghanistan now. I read a part in the book this morning about the Taliban and it really shook me up. Made me mad. Made me want to cry.

Happy Reader said...

Excellent Review! Its really sad to hear about the AIDS situation in Africa and I am looking fwd to read this book to know more. Btw, I watched "The Last King of Scotland" over the weekend and I really liked it! Thanks to you and Radha for letting me know about this movie.

Dewey said...

I have a friend who went this spring on the AIDS Walk in Africa through the I was so incredibly proud of her. She had to raise $10,000 for the foundation (my students raised almost $300 for her!) AND pay her own plane fare and food and lodging and shots and so on. It was a life-changing experience for her. I would love to do something like that some day!

Dewey said...

Oops, my link got messed up, but it still takes you to the right place.

Lotus Reads said...

@Gautami ~ You're right, at 6m infected people India probably has the highest number of people with AIDS, but because the population is so big the prevalence is still less than 1%. Whereas some countries in Africa have an HIV prevalence of greater than 30%! The Rory Stewart book is a good one, if I remember correctly Sanjay read and reviewed it not too long ago.

@Equiano ~ Too bad that copies of the book are not on display in London yet. It's a very striking book, and one that you automatitcally want to take down and browse through. The only disadvantage of a book like that is not being able to carry it in one's purse.

Bookfool said...

First, congrats to Bellezza and J!

Second . . . I have some questions for you, Lotus. How do you choose the books you read and where do you buy them? You always find the most fascinating books - often titles I've never heard of.

I knew the AIDS problem in Africa was disastrous and have read about why, but I didn't realize 28 million people were infected. That's hard to even fathom.

The movie sounds like a good one. I'll have to watch for it on video, eventually, as we no longer have a theater and the closest cinema doesn't show a broad variety (and it's 30 miles away, so we don't go often). Thanks for the reviews!

gs said...

hello lr
during the visit of the canadian premier to mumbai last year,there was a fim festival in which 'away from her' was screened.i liked the movie very much and i also posted a review on my blog.

Optimistic Guard said...

Hi, another great review, although i havent yet read this book, i have it on my list, have heard a lot about it. I'v heard its not all negative like most stuff on african aids but has a lot of stories that have a positive spin to them in some way.

Shashikiran Mullur said...

I've come home after a haircut: every moment there I was worrying who took the haircut before me. My barber jabbed the scissors into my scalp and nape and cheek so often; and we have a large number of infected people in India. On the way home, I calmed down, thanks to the fatalist in me.

But I am thinking of myself; you're doing well to push the message. Compliments for a very nice introduction to the book.

starry nights said...

It is really sad to know that so many women and children have HIV.and somehow do not get the treatment they need. we live in comfort and sometimes forget what is happening in this world around us,I know I am guilty of doing this.I think these 28 stories will make us more aware.thanks for the review.

Nymeth said...

I recently read another review of this, which, along with yours, made me realize that this is a book everyone should read. I've added it to my list.

Beenzzz said...

Yay J and Bellezza!

Beenzzz said...

I have to come back to this review. Right now, I have to collect all the camping gear and get ready for the great outdoors! I'm sure you wrote another wonderful review, Lotus! Have a good weekend!!

Lotus Reads said...

@Olivia ~ lol, you're sweet! If you're not an everyday reader I would recommend you buy the few odd books that take your fancy...don't bother with the library because you will simply have to remember to return it. BTW, I will have a post on my anthropologist blog either today or tomorrow! Thank you for stopping by!

@Laura ~ YES! We are twins aren't we? :) This book (28 Stories) moved me profoundly, I so do hope you get to read it. You and Mike are such a team...imagine spending the whole day in different bookstores, you are my kind of guys! Can't wait to read "A Thousand Splendid Suns", I haven't read a single negative review about it yet!

@Chitts ~ So glad you enjoyed "The Last King of Scotland"...don't you wonder what Africa might have been like today had it not been plundered by corrupt and despotic leaders?

@Dewey ~ I am in awe of your friend, this is so wonderful to know thank you for sharing this (and the link) with us. I feel so guilty...the only thing I have done so far is to buy one of those "Gap" T-shirts for AIDS, I really must do something more. I will be doing a post on your blogroll game soon...I think it's such a great idea. Thank you for visiting!

Gentle Reader said...

This looks like an important read--thanks for the review.

I also really want to see Away From Her--I've heard good things!

Lotus Reads said...

@bookfool/Nancy ~ Always happy to see a comment from you. Thank you for the question...I would say a lot of my book recommendations come from NPR and the book edition of my local newspaper "The Globe and Mail", also the Sunday Times (UK), last but certainly not least, our wonderful book community here in the blogosphere is a wonderful place for suggested reading, seems like not a day goes by when I am not adding books to my groaning TBR pile from book blogs. You know how that it is! ;)

You must see "Away From Her" when it comes out on DVD, you'll be so glad you did!

@gs ~ Yes! I remember now, yOu attended a talk by Ontario's premier, Dalton McGuinty and then watched the movie which, if I remember correctly, you really enjoyed. I must return to your blog to locate that post...would love to read it again.

@OG ~ You are so right. Although this is a book on AIDS, it's about people living with it, not dying from it. It celebrates life, not death. Thank you for the great input.

Lotus Reads said...

@Shashikiran ~ I love how you write, your comment made me smile although I didn't fail to grasp the point you were making. India's number of AIDS sufferers is out of control, is it true the government is in denial?

@Starry ~ So true! Now that people with AIDS are living longer and more fruitful lives here in the West we forget what a dastardly disease it can be to people who cannot afford the nutrition or medicines that are required to bring the symptoms under control. Also, it is shameful to recall the fight big pharmaceuticals like Pfizer, Merck etc. put up against Cipla who was making generic versions of the AIDS drug for sale to Africa at less than $2/course as opposed to the $$$'s the US pharmaceuticals wanted for it.

@nymeth ~ Welcome! Glad you added this book to your list, I know you will be moved by it.

@ beenzzz ~ Wonderful of you to drop in even though you were so busy. Enjoy your camping weekend and we can't wait to hear all about it!

@Gentle Reader ~ Welcome to you, too! Hope you get to read the book and see the movie! Let us know if you do.

Bybee said...

I'm watching "The Last King Of Scotland" right now & hope to see "Away From Her" soon.

Dewey said...

Yeah, my friend is amazing, but I wouldn't feel bad that you've "only" bought a tshirt! Look at what's happening right here -- you've shared something and made a lot of people think about something they may not have considered much in the past. THAT is doing something!

Olivia said...

That's the thing, I am an every day reader and often have more than one book going at any time. The thing is, I don't have as many hours to dedicate to reading as I once did, and dont get that much read on the train (though the extra 15-20 min added to my commute when I move house ought to help!). It would be nice to be able to read when I had nothing to do at the office, but that would look bad...

At the Moment I am reading
1) "Feast: A History of Grand Eating" by Roy Strong.
2) "Goddess" something about being the woman you can be to your full potential, from make up to finance...
3) "A Return to Modesty" by Wendy Shalit
4) and today I began "A Fete Worse Than Death: A Journey Through an English Summer" by Iain Aitch

Nyssaneala said...

Another great review, Lotus. It's a shame how the lack of effective international HIV/AIDS policy and donor support means that the situation is worsening in other countries too: India, China, Indonesia, Russia, and Caribbean countries.

It's sad that AIDS has now passed the Black Death in the number of deaths, and looks like it will definitely become the worst pandemic in human history. And it's 100% preventable. And don't get me started on the lack of access to treatment.

Lotus Reads said...

@Bybee~ I can't wait to hear what you thought of "King Of Scotland". It made me want to delve through Uganda's history, and isn't Forrest Whitaker just awesome in his role as Idi Amin? Totally deserving of the Oscar I thought!

@Dewey ~ Really appreciate what you said, thank you so much, I feel much better now!

@Olivia ~ Wow, that is quite the stash! I know other readers that have several books going at a time, but it's something I haven't been able to master..it's one book at a time for me. I love the sound of the Iain Aitch book, it sounds like it contains more than just a couple of laughs!

@Nyssaneala ~ Yes, sad is the word that comes to mind. So much of this could have been so easily preventable with education, the right medicine and so on. I was told 1 in 5 people in South Africa have the disease and probably the saddest thing is there aren't that many doctors available that haven't been struck with the disease themselves and the few that are healthy are often lured to the West with bigger salaries although I think there is a moratorium on taking doctors from Africa now.

Nabeel said...

hmmm .. I am a very strict critique when it comes to Africa and its various issues.

A - I feel sorry for the children who are born with aids .. sorry for the people who got infected without any wrong doing .. & of course people who were raped, to the rest .. hmm, no pity but medicine/help sure.

B - The only beautiful thing about Africa is the wildlife, the rest isn't that easy on the eyes. I know, I've been there.

D - US happens to be one of the biggest diamond consumers.

And well there's already so much money/AID that goes to Africa .. I am sure they are the biggest receivers when it comes to foreign aid .. what is going on with it? Why isn't anyone fixing their corrupt governments?

Radha said...

Its so tragic, the apathy towards human lives...

Lotus Reads said...

@Nabeel ~ I know some people hate it when we lump all of the countries of Africa together and refer to it as one big country, but I think we're justified in doing that because although there have been a few success stories in Africa, most countries on that continent have been plundered and looted, first by the Europeans, and now by their own people. Can I ask where in Africa you were?

@Radha ~ Things are getting better. Funnily enough, Bush who has fumbled in almost every area of his governance, seems to have done very well in mobilizing US aid to fight AIDS overseas. At least he'll have one positive thing to use in his legacy!

Priya said...

it is actually a very scary future that we face... here in Africa.

i must buy the book.

thanks for the visit

Lotus Reads said...

@Priya ~ Nice to see you here. Guess things are going to have to get worse before they get better!

Olivia said...

Gosh, yes, I had quite a shoulder-shaking time reading that book in the Tube this morning.

Added to my stash this evening, a housemate lent me her copy of "He's Just Not That Into You" so that is at the top of my list so I can give it back to her. And I lent her my copies of The Rules I & II (sent to me by a well-meaning American friend).