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Not Untrue & Not Unkind
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Not Untrue & Not Unkind

3.13  ·  Rating details ·  187 Ratings  ·  35 Reviews
'Not Untrue and Not Unkind' is a gripping story of friendship, rivalry and betrayal amongst a group of journalists and photographers covering Africa's wars.
Hardcover, 275 pages
Published January 1st 2009 by Penguin Ireland
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Nancy Oakes
Nov 02, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a difficult book to rate, so I'm not giving it a number. I just can't bring myself to do it this time.

Owen Simmons is selected to take over after the death of his editor, Cartwright. As he begins to go through Cartwright's folders, he discovers a photo of Owen's friends and colleagues taken during his time in Africa as a correspondent during the 1990s. As he studies the photo, it takes him back to those days, reopening wounds that he'd rather not remember, some of which, in fact, he's m
Jul 28, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This book was just - it was awful.

The first 200 pages was full unremitting boredom, bland stories about very uninteresting and unappealing and one-dimensional characters and with no drive at all. The last 70 pages had brief splashes of interest - I liked the sections about Cartwright - but ultimately it felt like a dreary waste of time. I had to force myself to pick up the book every time.

I have disliked books because they were dull, because I hated the characters, because there was no beauty
Aug 02, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010
Every image and every emotion in this book is a cliche -- a cliche about Africa, a cliche about expats in Africa, a cliche about men and women...

The framing device set in Ireland never gets off the ground, and is frankly overly melodramatic for what turns out to be very little payoff (if Cartwright could blackmail the narrator, he never did). The Africa sections -- with their scenes of bloody anguish and teeming refugees in (check the boxes) Rwanda, Congo and Sierra Leone (as we move through the
Ed O'Loughlin's Not Untrue and Not Unkind was long-listed for the 2009 Booker Prize, and having finished it, I can only wonder what they were thinking.

It's fairly well-written, but it's one of the most boring and uninvolving novels I've read in a while. The exploits of a group of ex-pat journalists in the middle of various African wars of the late 20th century combined with a love-story (or a story of obsession) between the narrator, an Irish journalist named Owen, and the mysterious Beatrice, o
Dec 07, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Not great and not awful.
Pretty banal, didn't like a single character, didn't care whether they died or not, big whatever.
It felt a lot longer than its 288 pages. I listened to the audiobook read by Gerard Doyle. He wasn't bad, but I don't think that he was given much material to work with.

It starts with a death. One Cartwright, a newspaper editor in Dublin is found dead. The person who finds him, a reporter called Owen Simmons, finds a dossier on Cartwright's desk and remembers his life as an intrepid war reporter in Africa. It's mostly a group of journalists and photographers covering Africa's wars when Iraq and
Hannah Jayne
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Owen Simmons has a comfortable life these days. His work as a foreign correspondent over, he potters around in the newspaper's home office, doing little real work but a fixture nonetheless. The death of an office mate and the discovery of an old file of Simmons' stories from his time in Africa leads him to wonder why his colleague was interested in his time there and forces him back in his mind to relive those days.

Owen went to Africa as a stringer, a journalist who wrote articles hoping to sell
Mar 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book sat on my shelf for so long the store at which I bought it is no longer in business.

And when I picked it out of my unread stack, I wondered what lead me to buy it in the first place.

The writing is impressive. The stories of the wars are told with distance and dispassion as a journalist would tell them. The violence and atrocities are all the more terrifying because of that.

The characters of the roving journalists who meet covering the wars in Africa are well-developed and help tell the
Elizabeth Kelly
Jul 26, 2011 rated it it was ok
"I feel slightly guilty about giving it two stars as it wasn't a bad book it just had few redeeming features. It was quite frankly a bit dull - with no characters to sympathise with as they were all a bit irritating. The back drop of Africa has been done so many times before there wasn't really much here that was originial.

At times it felt more like the authors memoirs than a fiction book which makes me wonder how appropriate the Booker nomination is - I don't think it is likely to be shortlist
I have very mixed feelings about this book, but on the whole I thought it was a well written and ultimately honest attempt to address the unreal situation of some believable (if unlikable and in a couple of cases clichéd) Westerners trying to deal with several realities of late C20th Africa - described more vividly than is comfortable for armchair travellers or current affairs analysts. The Dublin sections add little to the tale. The novel is clearly pretty autobiographical, and I think the auth ...more
Renée Heaton
Like many others that have reviewed this book I found it quite boring. I struggled to remember characters; because they didn't grab me, they weren't memorable; and I struggled to remember what the plot actually was. In the end we went a very long way around to get to what was actually something very real, complex and gripping and I would've loved to read more about.
That being said the novel is full of patches of fantastic writing, you just have to wade through lots of boring and cliched writing
Feb 22, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Owen Simmons is the main character in this book about foreign correspondents and photographers. He is a newpaper man from Ireland who travels to Africa to report in the Congo. He meets journalists and photographers from all over the world. They become family during the trials they encounter.

The reason I did not give it a higher mark is because it left me with so many unanswered questions. His love interest Beatrice and his boss at the paper, Cartwright left me wondering about their parts in the
Jul 16, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is O'Loughlin's first novel. Somewhat Heminwayesque in that it takes place in Africa during there seemingly endless civil wars. There is a cast of jounalists and photographers from various countries going from one war zone to the next getting their stories. The main character, Owen, has a short affair with a female journalist from the U.S. and France. It's kind of "what's it all about, Alfie" in message.
Jul 09, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Technically well written, with some sensitive and lyrical writing, and some interesting insights into life as a war-zone reporter. However ultimately this is a rather cynical, sad and depressed novel, and did not engage me as a reader. If the point of view had been from Beatrice rather than Owen it might have been more interesting and vital.
Anna Brunskill
I'm not sure how I feel about this now I've finished it. It's well-written and the parts about the reporting of various African conflicts feel authentic. But I found the protagonist to be an unsympathetic character, lacking in warmth, and I want entirely sure what motivated any of the other characters. So - an interesting book, with an un-engaging lead.
Jul 24, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010, booker-list

Long (and great) on detail, but short on everything else. There just wasn't enough character or clear narrative to really improve my opinion of the book. Perhaps that was a deliberate style choice, but it seemed a major omission to me. I'm rather surprised it made the list for the Booker last year (although this was not my least favourite of last year's list).
Dec 23, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book left me uncomfortable - uncomfortable, yet genuine relationships, uncomfortable environments, and the occasional uncomfortable cliche. That's why you should read this book - it leaves you deeply invested in the philosophy of everything you may find discomfort in.
Apr 20, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: suggested-grades
I really enjoyed this book. It was gritty and exciting and I think it might be a L-B1 but I couldn't be sure so please don't take my word for it.
May 16, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
So bad, that despite persevering to almost halfway through, I had to pack it in. I really tried.
Sep 11, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Longlisted for the 2009 Man Booker Prize, very strange story about journalists and photographers in Africa and India during coups and uprisings. Dark writing, very descriptive and felt pretty real.
This was okay, but seemed to be missing something. More later.
Robert Helfst
An interesting read, especially as it's told from a journalist's perspective of the African wars, but the narrative wanders and the framing device ends up being a crutch instead of an easel.
Feb 22, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition

It becomes still more difficult to find
Words at once true and kind,
Or not untrue and not unkind.

- Philip Larkin
Anne Bryson
Mar 18, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Started reading this book and decided life is too short to waste struggling through something which does not engage me at all, not even enough to analyse why not.
Michael Melara
A well written interesting tale about the almost bygone days of journalism and what it means to be a free lancer in Africa.
Danny Knobler
Jun 06, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great story, and great insight into Africa and the world of war correspondents.
Liked the descriptive words. Would have liked to have the story filled out with more detail of the people. The book seems more like an outlineof ideas than a complete story.
Aug 07, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Irish reporter in Africa, could have been written better, it read more like a tv show.
Brian Gustafson
rated it really liked it
Sep 14, 2014
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