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O, Africa!

3.20  ·  Rating details ·  173 ratings  ·  75 reviews
A rollicking and ambitious novel that recalls Michael Chabon’s The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay and E. L. Doctorow’s Ragtime, O, Africa! follows two filmmakers on an unlikely journey, while exploring the complexities of race, class, sexuality, and success in early twentieth century America.
In the summer of 1928, twin brothers Micah and Izzy Grand are at the p
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published June 10th 2014 by Hogarth (first published January 1st 2014)
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Average rating 3.20  · 
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Will Byrnes
Jun 23, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: cinema
Point a camera at something, you change it.
Change is definitely in the air in the summer of 1928. With the release of The Jazz Singer in 1927 the Grand brothers, silent-film director Micah, and his cameraman, partner and brother Izzy, might be feeling a bit of heat from the new kid on the block, the talkie. Their producer certainly is. Mired in debt and fearing for the future of his group’s stock in trade, he wants Micah and Iz to secure another foundation for their company. When he proposes
Feb 04, 2014 rated it liked it
With an in-your-face style, the author takes us to Africa for some movie-making in 1928. Such an ambitious endeavor had never been undertaken in film making. The movie makers are twin brothers, Micah and Izzy Grand, and the two of them couldn’t be more unlike. These characters were extremely well-drawn and formulated. Micah lives life to its fullest extent and takes tremendous risks. It’s his doing that the trip to Africa becomes necessary, in order to pay off a large gambling debt. Izzy is the ...more
Jeff Buddle
Jul 24, 2014 rated it did not like it
Andrew Lewis Conn tries too hard. He pretends that this is a historical novel, but gets so much wrong. He summons flights of words that say next to nothing. He piles up so many similes that the reader is crushed by comparisons. Characters never come to life, they move around cardboard landscapes and use cardboard dialogue. The prose has no rhythmic drive, it jumps and sputters and lacks purpose, waxing poetic in places and waning crude in others.

All this and the book is borderline racist. Not r
Chris Blocker
Jan 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I'm not funny and I don't find too many things funny. So when I got an advance copy of O, Africa! and read the praises of other authors, I was hesitant to go further. “Hilarious,” declares Gary Shteyngart. “A wise, irresistible comedy,” says Mary-Beth Hughes. “One of the funniest . . . books I've read,” echoes Paul La Farge. Even before I started reading, I knew that the little bit of humor I possessed wouldn't find the humor in this story. And what's funny is, that this was true, but I still lo ...more
Jan 12, 2014 rated it did not like it
Looks like I am the lone dissenter. I have read many reviews praising this book for its ingenious comedy. I started reading O, Africa by Andrew Lewis Coon yesterday. I gave it 100 pages and then started skimming it. It was so painful for me to read it word by word.

It is about two twin brothers, Micha and Izzy. Micha is a gambler, a liar, loves to be in the spotlight, and does very inappropriate things like masturbating at his own bar mitzvah. The list of shocking things that he does is endless a
Nov 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Despite the prominently displayed acclaim for this novel, a project that in its pre-published manifestation had already achieved the lofty goal of recognition as a successful work of literary fiction as it were, I wasn't prepared for the freight train of quality Andrew Lewis Conn sent directly readers' way with this thing. Reading O Africa! has made a tremendous impact on me. Although I am no gambling woman and so will not make absolute predictions, I think I've probably read one of the best nov ...more
May 30, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: books-read-2014
Sometimes I think it’s a disservice when a new novel is compared in reviews to previous books that received high acclaim. I fear this is true of Andrew Lewis Conn’s O’ Africa! It’s been compared to E.L. Doctorow’s Ragtime and The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon. Ragtime won the National Book Critics Circle Award, the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters Award, was named one of the Modern Library’s 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century and by T ...more
Nov 18, 2013 rated it liked it
Oh how I wish we could give 1/2 stars! This novel rates as 3 1/2 stars....not quite 4 but definitely better than a 3.

O, Africa is a historical fiction novel set during the final days of silent films. The author intertwines the story of Micah and Izzy Grand with real life celebrities from that era.

O, Africa has many complexities swirling around in its' narrative. Love, race, class, finding oneself, sacrifice, death, it's all in there told in prolific and sensual prose by author Andrew Lewis Conn
Sherreka Burton
Jun 17, 2014 rated it did not like it
Shelves: arc, contest
**I received this ARC through a GoodReads contest**

One-Sentence Summary: Micah and Izzy Grand are high-rollers in the moviemaking business, but a series of mistakes—involving gangsters, mistresses, debt—lead them both to the last place either of them want to be: Africa.

Time/Setting: Late 1920s New York, California, and Congo, Africa

Review: From the book’s description I thought I was going to be reading a satirical comedy about Africa as seen through the eyes of two moviemaking brothers; this boo
Kim McGee
Jun 25, 2014 rated it liked it
What is a very original look at early filmmakers in Hollywood and New York is overshadowed by a strange romance between one brother and an African prince and the other brother and his mistress. Micah and Izzy Grand are filmmakers of the best silent comedies around until they must move their filming to Africa to run away from repaying gambling debts. Personalities such as Babe Ruth and Duke Ellington feature in this "Grand" adventure that takes the twins from the states to Malwiki to get actual A ...more
Joseph Longo
Sep 27, 2014 rated it did not like it
I was looking forward to reading this book about a film crew that goes into Africa in the early years of the motion picture industry. But I couldn't really care about the characters, and I didn't like that plodding, seemingly self-conscious writing style. I abandoned the book less than halfway through it. ...more
Mar 27, 2014 rated it did not like it
No humor, shallow and unlikeable characters, it was hard to even make it to page 100 (which I had to skim a lot to get to). Cannot finish it, life is too short to read pretentious overly descriptive pages that go on and on with no end in sight.
Apr 27, 2014 rated it did not like it
It seems that this could of been a good book,had the author chose not to put in so much filth and filthy talking,very explictive in sexual nature,more like bad porn of nature talking and descriptions.This book did not need all of that.
Frank Carll
Nov 03, 2014 rated it did not like it
I couln't read than seventyfive pages of this book. The words just didn't flow with any kind of rhythm. The author seems to be determined to constantly impress the reader by choosing words that demonstrate his large vocabulary. ...more
Jan 01, 2014 rated it really liked it

Africa? Says Rose, lying naked on her side, the copper penny smell of semen flowering fragrant in the room. “What do you know about Africa?

O, AFRICA! is not a quick read. It is not a page-turner. Nor is it really an historical novel. What it is, is a fine book, an almost fully realized book.

To whom do I recommend O, AFRICA! First, Lovers of Lovers and doomed romances. Then, lovers of fiction, rich prose, and stylistic twists, turns and caresses. If you like magic tricks, trompe l’oeil, or are a
Jackson Coppley
Oct 22, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
O, Africa! is a fine read for those who enjoy a light story propelled by an author’s adept word play. It compare’s well with one of my favorites, Michael Chabon’s The Amazing Adventures of Cavalier and Clay. Both are historical fiction, perhaps playing it loose with the history, but tight on the clever wordsmithing.

The story is about making movies in the late ‘20s at the twilight of the silent era. The Grand brothers, Izzy the introspective cameraman, and Micah, the director and rogue, are makin
Tony Laplume
Mar 09, 2019 rated it it was ok
A minor window into early Hollywood, Conn's O, Africa! is at best undeveloped, at worst misguided, and generally a book version of a movie version of the times the author sought to explore. If that makes any sense.

Conn's sensibilities range from religious (the art of filmmaking) to inauthentic (his attempts to capture any of the relationships he explores), so you can begin to see where his knowledge and abilities rest. The end result is one of those beasts you can't imagine really slipped by all
I read this book for the 2018 ATY Challenge Week 12: A book set in South America or Africa.

In reading what others said about this book, I was not hopeful about finding any enjoyment. However, once I decided that this was a man's book as opposed to chick-lit, I found much about it to enjoy. Those who had a hard time with the blatant sexual descriptions in the book were women. We women like our sexual description to be more subtle and titillating and not so graphic and crass. But for a men's book
Aug 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
I won this several years ago as part of Goodreads Giveaway and am sorry it took so long to get around to it. I found the prose conmplemented the story and characters quite well. I enjoyed the journey very much so. :)
Patty Simpson
Sep 17, 2017 rated it liked it
It's really 2.5 stars, not 3. He uses language well, but doesn't ensure that it serves his story. The book tries to be more than it is, in the end. I have hope that the writer will hone his skills and eventually write something really good. ...more
Oct 01, 2017 rated it did not like it
After quitting on this book after 35 pages, I went to read the reviews and was amazed at the people who gave it 100 pages or more before giving up on it. For them to stay with this jumble of off-on-many-tangents bit of writing was heroic. Wish I could have given no stars.
Ellen Coppley
Oct 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book. Yes, it is full of metaphors, big words and lengthy descriptions, but I enjoyed the pictures they portrayed and the extraordinary writing. A grand adventure with a number of important messages.
Stan Semerod
Good story, but a little too much attempt at flowery description.
Apr 03, 2019 rated it liked it
[3.5 stars] Ok read.
Jan 20, 2015 rated it it was ok
Andrew Lewis Conn's "O, Africa!" will be adored by many, as it is a whimsical, lilting comedy set in the pell-mell movie world of the late 1920s. Two brothers, Micah and Izzy, collaborate as filmmakers for a famous-but-soon-to-be-bankrupt studio, and they are sent to Africa to engage in some profit-seeking on-location shooting. Through a twist of fate, their African excursion is high-jacked by a Harlem crime lord who gives them an additional script to shoot while there. That movie is "O, Africa! ...more
Nov 01, 2013 rated it liked it
I received an advance copy of O, Africa in a LibraryThing giveaway.

Do you ever read a book and feel like maybe you're not getting it, or it's just not for you, or you're reading it at the wrong time and maybe if you read it some other time you'd like it more? I felt that way quite a lot as I read O, Africa!

Marketing for the book describes it thus: "Moving from the piers of Coney Island to Africa’s veldt, and further to the glitter of early Hollywood, O, AFRICA! is an epic tale of self-discovery
Nov 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
Copy received through Goodreads’ First Reads program.

The most notable upside of this book - its intoxicating energy and ebullience - also makes it nearly impossible to define or describe, as it takes on more concepts and themes than you can shake a stick at, even if you’re pretty well known in your community for your stick-shaking skills. The basic story follows the travails of Micah and Izzy Grand, two moderately successful silent moviemakers beginning in 1928, as their careers are threatened
Apr 10, 2014 rated it liked it
Andrew Lewis Conn’s “O Africa! A Novel,” to be released on June 10, 2014, is an unusual book, by turns fascinating and frustrating. Marketed as a rollicking comic adventure, it veers from slapstick humor to deep tragedy. At times, this seemed a book uncertain of its own identity.

Twin movie-making brothers Micah and Izzy Grand are masters of silent era comedies at a time when “talkie” movies threaten to revolutionize the business. We meet the Brothers Grand in the summer of 1928, filming a typica
Arlena Dean
Mar 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
Title: O, Africa!
Author: Andrew Lewis Conn
Publisher: Hogarth
Reviewed By: Arlena Dean
Rating: 4

"O, Africa" by Andrew Lewis Conn was really some historical read that brought it all out in one way or the other...being 'offensive, a little bit funny and oh so very heart breaking' at times. Now, you may ask yourself how can one book do all of that? We find from the read two twin brothers ..Izzy and Micah Grand who were prominent filmmakers and definitely opposites in the 1920's where we can see
Nov 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing
The year is 1928, and the Grand brothers are at the peak of their movie-making careers in silent films, although there is trouble on the horizon with the ever-increasing number of talkies being made. Micah is the idea man; extroverted, full of vision, always looking to cut a deal. He serves as the movies' director. His twin, Izzy, is his opposite. He works behind the scenes, cutting and splicing the scenes together to use film to create a story. He is shy, socially awkward and gay, none of which ...more
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Andrew Lewis Conn is the author of P (Soft Skull Press, 2003) and O, AFRICA! (Hogarth/Crown 2014). He has written essays, short fiction, and reviews for The Believer, Film Comment, The Village Voice, Time Out New York, and the Indiana Review, among others, and attended writers residencies at Yaddo and Ledig House in Hudson, NY. Conn’s debut novel, P, was chosen as a best book of the summer of 2003 ...more

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