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Alexandra Fuller
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Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight: An African Childhood

3.96  ·  Rating Details ·  41,003 Ratings  ·  2,873 Reviews
Alexandra Fuller's honest and unsentimental memoir of her childhood spent in the middle of the Rhodesian Civil War of the 1970s.
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Published July 1st 2003 by Recorded Books (first published 2001)
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Cathy Sargent Hardscrabble ranches with loving but eccentric parents yes. Curious to know if how many family members had the geneti an x factor for alcoholism and…more Hardscrabble ranches with loving but eccentric parents yes. Curious to know if how many family members had the geneti an x factor for alcoholism and how many began drinking and using drugs to cope with political strife and survival. Do people in alcoholic families feel love...people suffereing from this disease aften have early childhood trauma that they need to heal before they can explore why they are drinking and living the dying way of life. Curious to know how many readers will miss one of the core issues: alcoholism(less)
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Community Reviews

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Jun 05, 2008 Juliefrick rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
This is one of my top-ten favorite books of all time. An extremely compelling memoir, well-written, poignant but not maudlin or precious. I've read it twice and feel another reread coming on.

The brutal honesty in this story is startling, and Fuller does not set out to insert political or social critique into her story. This is probably unsettling for readers who come face-to-face with her family's colonialist attitudes and expect to hear her criticize and critique them. However, I prefer that Fu
Dec 15, 2007 Allie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Childhood memoir fans
I almost gave this book four stars because it was very well-written and evocative. But I just never felt much of a connection to the book or to any of the characters. The author's writing skill made it a pleasant enough read - at least, pleasant enough to finish. But it definitely wasn't a can't-put-it-down kind of book.

If I had to give concrete criticisms of the book, the main one would be that she doesn't develop any characters outside of her immediately family (in fact, it seemed her family
The memoirs of the childhood of a white girl (Alexandra, known as Bobo), raised on African farms in the 1970s and 1980s, along with her sister, Van(essa). But it's not a gilded, ex-pat life: her parents lose their farm in forced land distribution, after which they are itinerant farm managers, who move where the work is, often to disease-ridden and war-torn areas. They also have their own problems with bereavement and alcohol. It is perhaps closer to misery lit, although the tone is mostly light, ...more
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
Sep 25, 2008 Jeanette "Astute Crabbist" rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jeanette by: Elisabeth
Whenever I read an autobiography, I compare my childhood experiences with those of the author. What was happening in my life at that age? How would I have behaved under those circumstances?

With this book, the comparisons were difficult to make. I can't imagine growing up amid so much tumult and violence and uncertainty. Not to mention numerous inconveniences and an abundance of creepy and dangerous vermin.

I'm glad I didn't grow up in a place where terrorists were so common that they were refer
Debbie "DJ"
Apr 06, 2016 Debbie "DJ" rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir, own-a-copy
What a fantastic read! Alexandra Fuller took me on an amazing journey through her younger years growing up in Africa as a poor white girl. Her parents are expats from Britain who moved in the late 60's to work as farm managers. This memoir details her life from that time right up to the late 90's, a time period when Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) was at war fighting for independence from Britain. I found it fascinating to not only read of the hellish conditions, but also how this young girl named Bobo, ...more
I totally, TOTALLY loved this book!!!!! I know I tshould think a bit before I write something, but I am carried away by my emotions. I love the family, all of them. How can I love them, they are so very far from any way I could live my own life, but nevertheless I love them to pieces. Their lives are hard, but they get through, one step at a time. They know what is important. They don't demand too much. Oh the mother, my heart bled for her. I know she is manic, but who wouldn't be - living throu ...more
Mar 23, 2012 Melki rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
The first few lines are gripping, to say the least.
Mom says, "Don't come creeping into our room at night."
They sleep with loaded guns beside them on the bedside rugs.
She says, "Don't startle us when we're sleeping."
"Why not?"
"We might shoot you."

Just a taste of what life was like for young Alexandra "Bobo" Fuller.

Living in a house with no electricity, Fuller recounted how she and her sister employed the "buddy system" to use the bathroom at night. One girl used the toilet while the other he
Apr 24, 2011 Lisa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A well-written memoir that was fascinating if only because the author is exactly my age, born the year I was born, and lived a life so very different from my own. As she described each stage of her upbringing, I found myself thinking about what I had been doing at that same age and marveling that the two of us could possibly have occupied the same world at the same time. I envy her when I should probably not -- her life has clearly not been easy, but it has been rich with experiences. The other ...more
Badly Drawn Girl

As an avid reader, it often surprises people when they learn that I rarely re-read books. I know that a lot of people find great enjoyment from repeat readings, discovering new layers to the story and gaining a better understanding of the book. I look at it a bit differently. There are so many wonderful books out there and I'll never be able to read them all. Usually when I choose to re-read a book I feel like I'm wasting time that could be devoted to reading a new book.

My reason for sharing th
Leah Polcar

What makes Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight an outstanding memoir was Fuller's interesting choice to tell the story of growing up as an "expat-like-us" in Africa from a child's POV and the fact she did not tie herself to recounting her childhood in a linear manner. The latter was effective since Fuller doesn't get bogged down in the day-to-day mendacity that is life and she can focus on events and stories that give a full picture to growing up (white) in Africa. Her choice to use a child
Jul 06, 2007 Anna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: all interested in childhood recounts and recent history
An autobiography about growing up in colonial Rhodesia (present-day Zimbabwe). Two things made me curious about this book: it's from the perspective of the child of colonialists, and the events are fairly recent as it takes place in the 1970's-1990's.
The voice is that of a relatively innocent young girl (as innocent as you can be in midst of war and dire economic circumstances) and she's allowed to tell her childhood as she saw it, good and bad.

I've had fairly mixed feelings about this book: I w
Feb 02, 2014 Nina rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: africa, memoir-essays
I am African by accident, not by birth. So while soul, heart, and the bent of my mind are African, my skin blaringly begs to differ and is resolutely white. And while I insist on my Africanness (if such a singular thing can exist on such a vast and varied continent), I am forced to acknowledge that almost half my life in Africa was realized in a bubble of Anglocentricity, as if black Africans had not culture worth noticing and as if they did not exist except as servants and (more dangerously) a ...more
Brendan Detzner
Mar 15, 2008 Brendan Detzner rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone
I read an article by a book reviewer a little while ago in which they talked about how sick they were of "growing up in fill-in-the-blank" books and wished people would be more original. I think that's incredibly misguided. Growing up isn't a cliche, it's just something that happens a lot that's important. So people are going to write about it, and good for them.

They don't usually write about it this well though. This is one of those books that tops out on many different levels at the same time-
Nov 02, 2013 Seraphina rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016-reads
This is the second book I've read by fuller and I just love her writing style and the story she has to tell. Growing up in the 70's as ex-pats in a country still fighting for it's own independence. Where it's normal to live carrying guns and needing escorts just to go to the local village, in case you drive over landmines or get assaulted. And then to have to grow up in a family as unusual as alexandra's is just such a fascinating story. A mother who is heartbroken from a loss of a child, who dr ...more
Sara Diane
Oct 08, 2007 Sara Diane rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no one
I read this book (well, most of it, I admit, I didn't finish and didn't want to) while in training as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Namibia, Africa. I found the writing to be disjointed and the colonial attitudes to be far to accurate. I might have liked it better before going to Africa, before seeing first-hand what various colonizing governments did to people, but maybe not. I might have liked it better if she told her memories in order, rather than jumping around so I had some clue as to where a ...more
Laurie Notaro
Jul 24, 2015 Laurie Notaro rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An insanely good read that I had on my bookshelf since I bought it 14 years ago. A memoir about an African childhood--a white girl of low-income farmers that are determined to eek out a living because they love Africa. In the late seventies, early eighties, through much upheaval in several countries. Enjoyed it so much I bought another copy for my niece, who will be traveling to Africa next summer on a fellowship to treat diseases. Really loved it.
Her writing is beautiful, descriptive. You can smell and taste Africa; sometimes you can even smell and taste blood and liquor.

I would have never have dreamed of reading a book about Africa; the country just never appealed to me. But my friend, who is a teacher, and who lives part time in Africa teaching English at a school she had started, recommended it. It is a true story of a white girl growing up in Africa during the civil war, and it smacks of colonialism and racism, both of which I disli
I am a white South African so in a way I could relate to Fuller. I am currently living in the Netherlands, so reading about the beauty of Africa truly made me feel homesick. I thought this book was going to be about Africa and how she came to see that the White people in Zimbabwe were in fact the 'bad guys' in the war but instead it was really about her family surviving in Africa. I DID enjoy some parts of the story, I thought her family were colourful and although it was a bit dark at times, hu ...more
“I lie with my arms over the cat, awake and waiting. African dawn, noisy with animals and the servants and Dad waking up and a tractor coughing into life somewhere down at the workshop, clutters into the room.”

Another in my 52 Books Around the World Challenge, Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight is exactly the kind of book I have been hoping for in my quest to immerse myself in another country. Ms. Fuller grew up in Africa, the opening lines of the book taking place in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe).
I read "Cocktail hour under the tree of Forgetfulness" first, and found this book too repetitive - although it was written first. I loved Cocktail hour more.

However, I enjoyed Alexandra Fuller's candor, honesty, wit and great writing style as usual.

I somehow had enough now for a while of all the hardship, tragedy, hurt, and everything else related to the wars in Africa and everywhere else. I have experienced much the same as Alexandra Fuller, being part of the revolutionary times, the same wars
Sep 22, 2011 Lena rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
Alexandra Fuller was just three when her parents moved from England to what was then Rhodesia. They bought a farm and stubbornly fought to eek out a living in an environment hostile in more ways than one.

Fuller's prose is simple and compelling, addressing with equal clarity the tangible richness of growing up in the African landscape and the perpetual instability brought on by having hard-drinking, openly racist parents who were fighting on the losing side of Zimbabwe's war of independence. Her
Aug 06, 2008 Sally rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
There are many reviews that summarize this book, so I won’t repeat them. I found this book slightly anti-African. It left me feeling like; couldn't the British have left Africa alone and let them have their own country? It does not seem right for there to be a British Africa. Seems unnatural. I suppose American Indians may have felt the same way about the early colonists, as well. This was no Out of Africa. Now that was a great book and memoir. Different time period and location, of course.
No o
Megan Compaine
Apr 27, 2008 Megan Compaine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Christian Engler
If anyone has ever read Isak Dinesen's famed memoir, Out of Africa and enjoyed it, they will surely like Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight: An African Childhood. The story line of both memoirs have many parallel components, perhaps with the sole exception being the writing style. Alexandra Fuller's memoir is written in an almost rough, edgy and choppy manner with a halting abruptness to it. Even so, it does not diminish the quality of the work; rather, it enhances the depictions of the fiery or ...more
"But then I notice that it is the deep-black-sky quiet time of night, which is the halfway time between the sun setting and the sun rising when even the night animals are quiet - as if they, like day animals take a break in the middle of their work to rest." p. 4

This is one of those books that has been on my TBR list for a long time. Many people had told me how good it is and I am glad that another friend prodded me to read something by Fuller. My friend was extolling the virtues of Fuller's lat
Jul 04, 2008 pamelochka rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Kadee
A wonderfully written, inspiring tale of an unconventional childhood and life in Africa. I was particularly struck by the author's notes at the end of the book where she writes that she started out with 8 or 9 failed attempts to write a fictional novel based on her family and youth. I'm very glad she chose to tell her life story as it happened. It is heartbreaking and unforgettable. If nothing else, I have taken away from Alexandra Fuller's book a sense that one can do anything in this world as ...more
Jun 19, 2014 Renata rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I thoroughly enjoyed this book about a young girl growing up in Africa in a hard scrabble white family determined to homestead and claim a piece of land of their own. Fuller writes beautifully. She made me feel like I was there with her... I could see the land, breathe in the dust, feel her thirst and her determined fascination with the life around her. When her mother tells her they are riding out on the horses young Alexandra knows no food will be packed and if she gets thirsty she had better ...more
J.L.   Sutton
Apr 09, 2016 J.L. Sutton rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Deciding to read more memoirs again, I picked up Alexandra Fuller’s Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight (first read about 6 or 7 years ago). I enjoyed this book. Fuller’s memoir quickly draws the reader into her girlhood growing up in Africa with candor and humor. Fuller weaves her story back and forth between an intimate portrait of her family and the violence surrounding them. Violence is not just a backdrop; this violence, and the lack of political stability in the countries she grows up in, s ...more
Wow, this is one of the best memoirs I've read in a while! Funny, dark, and searingly honest.

Alexandra Fuller (known as "Bobo") grew up in Rhodesia, Malawi, and Zambia, the child of gregarious, charming, heavy-drinking, and deeply racist parents of British descent. What I loved about this book was how richly Ms. Fuller paints the picture of her family and the segregated life of her childhood. There is little political commentary here, and no indictment of colonialism - yet, there is no softenin
Aug 26, 2011 Judy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone
Recommended to Judy by: multiple friends
Since I think I am the last of my group of friends to read this book, it hardly seems necessary to review. All I need to say is the only reason I didn't give it 5 stars is that I don't care for present-tense writing. Everything else? Perfect.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
  • Mukiwa: A White Boy in Africa
  • The Last Resort: A Memoir of Zimbabwe
  • Twenty Chickens for a Saddle
  • Rainbow's End: A Memoir of Childhood, War and an African Farm
  • The Flame Trees of Thika: Memories of an African Childhood
  • Where We Have Hope: A Memoir of Zimbabwe
  • My Traitor's Heart: A South African Exile Returns to Face His Country, His Tribe, and His Conscience
  • Emma's War
  • The Zanzibar Chest
  • I Dreamed of Africa (tie-in edition)
  • Nine Hills to Nambonkaha: Two Years in the Heart of an African Village
  • The Road from Coorain
  • Love in the Driest Season: A Family Memoir
  • African Laughter: Four Visits to Zimbabwe
  • Casting with a Fragile Thread: A Story of Sisters and Africa
  • Monique and the Mango Rains: Two Years with a Midwife in Mali
  • Out of Africa / Shadows on the Grass
  • Notes from the Hyena's Belly: An Ethiopian Boyhood
Alexandra Fuller has written five books of non-fiction.

Her debut book, Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight: An African Childhood (Random House, 2001), was a New York Times Notable Book for 2002, the 2002 Booksense best non-fiction book, a finalist for the Guardian’s First Book Award and the winner of the 2002 Winifred Holtby Memorial Prize.

Her 2004 Scribbling the Cat: Travels with an African Soldie
More about Alexandra Fuller...

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“How you see a country depends on whether you are driving through it, or live in it. How you see a country depends on whether or not you can leave it, if you have to.” 30 likes
“This is not a full circle. It's Life carrying on. It's the next breath we all take. It's the choice we all make to get on with it.” 11 likes
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