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

3.94 of 5 stars 3.94  ·  rating details  ·  30,988 ratings  ·  2,244 reviews
Fuller, known to friends and family as Bobo, grew up on several farms in southern and central Africa. But "Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight" is more than a survivor's story: It is the story of one woman's unbreakable bond with a continent and the people who inhabit it, a portrait lovingly realized and deeply felt. A Book Sense Selection. Photos.
Hardcover, 301 pages
Published March 5th 2002 by Random House (first published 2001)
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Juliefrick
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...more
Allie
Dec 18, 2007 Allie rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  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...more
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
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...more
Cecily
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
Chrissie
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 through...more
Melki
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."
"Oh."


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...more
Lisa
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
Anna
Jul 09, 2007 Anna rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  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...more
Brendan Detzner
Mar 15, 2008 Brendan Detzner rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  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-...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...more
Sara Diane
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
Lena
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...more
Suzanne
“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)....more
Megan Compaine
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
pamelochka
Aug 13, 2008 pamelochka rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  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
Inder
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...more
Judy
Dec 06, 2012 Judy rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  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.
Veronica
I've already read Fuller's second book about her family's life in Africa, Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness, so this wasn't as surprising a read as it might have been. Many of the events are the same, but this is Alexandra's view of her life in Africa, up to her marriage, so we see them from a different perspective. There's less insight into her mother's state of mind, but it's still very clear how difficult her parents' life was, and how much courage and determination they had, livi...more
Sally
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...more
Mary
I enjoyed this book. Alexandra Fuller's life and growing up experiences were so different than my own, it was fascinating to me to read about hers.
And despite all the difficulties and sadness (humor too) that she went through living in Rhodesia, Africa (which became Zimbabwe) in the 70's, her love of this country comes through.
It really is a book about everything, war, poverty, making do with what you have, sibling issues-life and death. Fuller has a great talent in her writing, I was riveted....more
Nina
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
Katherine
Fuller’s book, Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight, describes with brutal honesty Fuller’s childhood in Zimbabwe and Malawe. In Fuller’s story, she describes her life with her family through the eyes of a growing child. The story is a remarkable one largely due to Fuller’s ability to capture and translate the relationships between herself and the rest of her family, while at the same time to create individual portraits of each family member, Tim, Tub, Van, and herself (Bobo).
Each character com...more
Lisa (Harmonybites)
Jan 24, 2012 Lisa (Harmonybites) rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
Recommended to Lisa (Harmonybites) by: The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Ultimate Reading List
The tone of this memoir of "an African childhood" is set in the very first lines:

Mum 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."

"Oh."

"By mistake."

"Okay." As it is, there seems a good enough chance of getting shot on purpose. "Okay, I won't."


Dangerous, slightly insane, quite funny. That's her childhood in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). My first impression...more
Susan
This book was a rare treat—a book that made me laugh out loud, get angry, and so sad that I had to put it down for a while. This lady is a great writer. She conveys such a sensory experience of Africa that I could actually smell, taste, and feel it. What’s more, she made me really care about a bunch of people who at times seemed not so much a family as an insane asylum. The parents infuriated me with their alcoholic neglect of their children, their blatant racism, and their recklessness, but in...more
Harry Rutherford
Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight is an autobiography about growing up in Rhodesia/Zimbabwe. It’s about growing up in a war — Fuller was only eleven at the time of independence — and about the last throes of white colonialism and a dying way of life.

Her parents had been living in Kenya, but after Mau Mau they moved to Rhodesia, where Ian Douglas Smith had declared that there would never be majority rule, and fought to keep at least one part of Africa under white rule. Then after Rhodesia became...more
Marilynmayer
I read Fuller's book on the heals of Ishmael Beah's, A Long Way Gone, and what a juxtaposition. While her life would seem absolutely pampered in contrast to Beah's harrowing tale of being forced to be a child soldier, she did not have an easy life. Fuller's writing is truly told from the perspective of a child growing up in a country that her parents chose to live in because, "They just wanted to live in an African country in which white people were still in charge." When Rhodesia became Zimbabw...more
Bridget
My mom has been telling me to read this book for years. I am so glad I finally did. It's difficult to explain why I loved it so much. It's full of real, flawed, imperfect people who make mistakes and drink too much beer and express uncomfortably racist opinions in a setting that is so completely foreign to me (1970s, 80s, and 90s Malawi, Zambia, and Rhodesia/Zimbabwe) that I can hardly begin to imagine what it was like.

And Fuller doesn't try to paint a clear, complete picture of what those count...more
Margitte
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...more
Catherine
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
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Alexandra Fuller has written four 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
More about Alexandra Fuller...
Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness Scribbling the Cat The Legend of Colton H. Bryant Falling: The Story of a Marriage Leaving Before the Rains Come

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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.” 11 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.” 5 likes
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