May 16, 08
Read in April, 2008
Godwin's "When a Crocodile Eats the Sun" is not only compelling and well-written, but more timely than ever. A memoir of his adult life after having left Zimbabwe, the place of his birth (he is a journalist for National Geographic and a slew of other top-notch publications), Godwin painfully portrays the experience of white Africans in Zimbabwe, and his own family's history in their journey to Africa. It gives an insider's view of Mugabe's reign of terror, and the utter chaos that has enveloped the country.
Perhaps the most compelling part of the story is that of his parents, elderly in the late 90s and early 2000s. Anyone who has cared for an aging loved one, and who feels the guilt of the child or grandchild who is no longer at home to care for them, is struck by this emotional theme in the story. Add to this feeling the fact that his aging parents are in a conflict torn country with few resources, wild inflation, and rampant crime and intimidation, and you get a sense of the emotional and moral dilemma Godwin goes through. His parents are rooted in their home country and won't leave, but their children cannot viably stay; indeed, one of Godwin's siblings is a casualty of random violence during the Civil War. Godwin and his remaining sister act as international voices on the crisis, she on the radio, he in print.
This is a heartbreaking and riveting book, which can be paired daily with the newspaper to show how so little has changed in Zimbabwe (the book ends in 2004), and how Mugabe's reign of terror last until this day.