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The Longest Memory

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  1,098 ratings  ·  93 reviews
From William Styron's The Confessions of Nat Turner to Toni Morrison's Beloved, modern American fiction engaged with slavery has provoked fiery controversy. So will The Longest Memory, the powerful, beautifully crafted, internationally acclaimed fictional debut of prizewinning Guyanese poet Fred D'Aguiar. In language extraordinary for its tautness and resonance, The Longes ...more
Paperback, 144 pages
Published July 6th 1995 by Vintage (first published October 1st 1994)
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Average rating 3.82  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,098 ratings  ·  93 reviews

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Oct 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone
Such an impactful small book, a definite keeper in my library. I recommend this book to everyone.
Apr 04, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: my-top-shelf

The following is my review, written in 2006, of this amazing book, which I read on the recommendation of another member, and a good friend of mine, Mandy. If it inspires anyone to add this book to their "To Read" list then both she and I will be much pleased:

This week I had the privilege of reading this very short, very beautifully crafted book by Fred D’Aguiar, a writer whose name I had never come across before, which is of course a reflection on my own literary ignorance as this book was a win
Chris Te Lindert
Oct 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
A most powerful multi-perspective story set in the early 19th century slavery era of southern states America. The oldest slave on Mr Whitechapel’s plantation - Whitechapel - despite his long memory, wants to forget. The loss of his only son, and his unwitting role in it, haunts him. Each of those who play a role in these events contributes their experience adding another layer to the overwhelming cruelty that was perpetuated during this era. A very short read but one that is guaranteed to leave ...more
Oct 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This novella is on my son's Year 11 reading list next year. And it's a worthy study.

It's a simple yet gripping tale of life on a plantation in Virginia around 1810 . It's written in a highly accessible way. It does a great job of highlighting the issues associated with slavery and tells a twisted tale.

All the characters are memorable. Chapters are written from varying perspectives of each of the main characters. And there's a special chapter written as editorials from the local paper that rein
Apr 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
A moving and deeply sad story.
D'Aguiar effectively uses perspective to tell the story from multiple sides all building up to a conclusion that was presented in the first chapter (also a great choice).
Writing changed appropriately for the different characters. It always had a clear, poignant simplicity.
Highly recommended.
Mark Bell
Jul 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
Others have given the essence of the story, a subject that I am familiar with. My comment concerns the author's writing style. Precision and command of language are his clarion calls. A style that is worthy of praise and adulation. ...more
Joseph Hildula
May 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
This book is super ambitious in both subject and structure. D'Aguiar's trademark poesy creates layers of subtlety and intimation that bear multiple reads. Whitechapel the elder slave (more on that later) is sufficiently tortured by his fealty to the institution of slavery, and his subsequent betrayal of his son. The journal entries from Sanders Sr. comprise my favorite chapter; the complex motivations and moral quandaries the old overseer grapples with feel strangely relatable, albeit through th ...more
Peter Chapel
Fred D'Aguiar's novel "The Longest Memory" follows the story of a young slave named Chapel as he learns to play Fortnite. One day he tries to escape the infamous Whitechapel plantation and ultimately gets lashed 200 times like a boss. The novel is quiet enjoyable, but is evidently quiet niggardly as you get deeper into the novel. Whilst the novel for the most part is quiet lackluster, it has some pretty great moments that leave the reader satisfied. One of these moments is when Peter Griffin arr ...more
Aug 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
I'm most likely going to need to re read this one to understand the full concept but despite the heavy content in this book, it was actually quite good! I loved the poetic writing style, I feel like it made the story more realistic and emotional as you got to feel the character's real feelings. I also loved the disjointed storyline, personally it made me care for the plot more as I got to analyse which parts took place when and how it all fitted together as one story. Such an emotional and painf ...more
Sep 13, 2019 rated it liked it
The Longest Memory, told from multiple perspectives of both slaves and masters, is a heart touching story of the lives of slaves. While it doesn't exactly tell about the descriptive cruelty imposed upon them, it speaks more upon morals that the slaves lived by. The beginning of the book is somewhat confusing, but just keep on reading and you'll begin to understand what's going on. I really enjoyed this book and think that more people should read it sometime. I hop you add this to your list of wa ...more
Sharon Banitt
Nov 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
The story of a young slave, Chapel, who decides to flee in 1910 and meet up with his white girlfriend (the landowner's daughter) in the North. His father inadvertently turns him in. Due to a deal with the plantation owner who knows the real story of this young man's birth. Instead, the owner is gone and the overseer condemns him to 200 lashes (enough to kill him). As it turns out this is really his half brother. A sad but interesting time of slavery in Virginia. ...more
Trisa Hugo
Dec 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
A heartbreaking tragedy about a slave who died after punishment. The terrible guilt carried by his father is even more heartwrenching. Written in poetic language, this tale about slavery, hate, guilt, betrayal and love is a difficult read, from the different perspectives of people related to Chapel and also editorials from the newspaper. It is set in the 19th century in Virginia, at the height of the era of slavery.
Mar 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
Surprisingly wonderful for a book I had to read for English class! It evoked SO much emotion in me and it was crazy intense. It covers so many themes and really brings to light the issues with slavery. It moved me to no end! Warning- I had to restrict myself from reading it at nights because I would get too upset and wouldn't be able to sleep. ;( ...more
Massanutten Regional Library
Lisa, North River patron, July 2018, 4 stars:

The Longest Memory is historical fiction depicting life on a Virginian plantation between 1790 and 1810. The story is told from the viewpoint of several different people using different formats. While it tells a heartbreaking story, the telling is conveyed in a poignant style that can simultaneously sicken and touch the reader.
Pauline McGonagle
Jul 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
How can something so heartbreaking and sad be told so beautifully? Not only that, but succinctly and poetically, D'Aguiar managed to capture generations of painful servitude and a range of complicated perspectives on this.
Perhaps a poet brings something special to a novel which allows so much to be conveyed in so few words.
Truly a stunning piece of work.
R. Verhagen
Sep 01, 2020 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
lena ☀️
Nov 01, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: school
I read this for school and I read it rushed because I didn't get it until we had started studying it so I don't feel like I can accurately rate it but I hate it sitting there without a rating so it's getting 3 stars. ...more
DS Promotions -Lainey
Jan 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I really wasn’t sure what to expect on how I would feel reading this book but I Loved it! It’s such a sad story showing how life once was and how color
Distinguished a persons life. It also showed true love regardless of colour and love lost through human cruelty.
Well Worth the read.
Vika Len
Jul 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Essentially: slavery creates the generational injustices between black Americans and white Americans, which is still echoing down to the modern day.

The Longest Memory is not a difficult book to read, the story itself contained and intricate, and gets the reader to emotionally invest, not in the individual characters, but in the broad concepts each character represent. We get angry at the ignorant and bigoted words of The Virginian not because we care so much about Whitechapel the slave, but beca
Jul 31, 2018 rated it liked it
This book isn't what I would generally choose to read. It was sort of cheesy, not in a romantic way but it was predictable as a book and it didn't really have a deep meaning, its sort of just there for you. ...more
Georgia Danielle
Jun 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019-reads
gave an excellent insight into the lives of slaves in America and the justifications used by white Americans to condone such horrific acts.
Would certainly recommend
The writing style was descriptive and well written !
Sally Embury-thomas
This is a haunting little novella set in the time of the slave plantations. Each chapter is written from a different viewpoint and in a different format - even poetry. They all combine to build up a story about slavery and dreams of freedom and a love that can never be. Easy to read and enjoyable.
Willow Sheard
Jul 10, 2020 rated it liked it
A brutal and insightful view into the horrors of slavery, offering multiple viewpoints into the lives of the overseers, plantation owners and the slaves themselves. The different forms of the chapters (ect. going from diary entries to a poem) is engaging and unique, perfectly reflecting the mindset of the characters.
Jun 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Loved this one. Not totally perfect but an engaging read.
Jul 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Started stronger than it finished but deserving of all its credits. The kind of simple but thoughtful book you don't soon forget. ...more
Georgie Gilmore
Jan 09, 2018 rated it liked it
Difficult to follow in places, but definitely gives you a new perspective.
Feb 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
An amazing book that stays with you, especially in today's polarised climate ...more
Jul 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: school
A really interesting and different concept and a story with a lot of heart!
Jul 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Brilliant and heartbreaking! Loved this book!
Clive Parkin
Apr 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
The mix of voices, times and ideas results in a powerful combination. Lots of little idea “buds” here that elicit other imaginings as one reads.
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Poet, novelist and playwright Fred D'Aguiar was born in London in 1960 to Guyanese parents. He lived in Guyana until he was 12, returning to England in 1972.

He trained as a psychiatric nurse before reading African and Caribbean Studies at the University of Kent, Canterbury, graduating in 1985. His first collection of poetry, Mama Dot (1985), was published to much acclaim and established his reputa

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