We Are All Zimbabweans Now

James Kilgore. Ohio Univ./Swallow, $22.95 trade paper (272p) ISBN 9780821419854
At times unfocused and noncommittal, Kilgore's debut novel follows Ben Dabney, a similarly scattered Wisconsin graduate student, as he eagerly attempts to chronicle Zimbabwe's struggle for liberation and subsequent reconciliation under the rule of his admitted idol, Robert Mugabe. After arrogantly refusing to adjust his idealistic views of Mugabe's government at the request of his advisor, Professor Latham, or heed various threats to steer clear of controversial political topics in his research, Ben eventually opens his eyes to the realities and atrocities of the Zimbabwean government. But instead of fighting back, he switches his focus to an easier, less controversial topic, just as he ran from a relationship with a student, and from his estranged daughter in the States. Ben leads a cast of one-dimensional characters who are capable of expressing only the most shallow of human emotions, despite personal tragedy and suffering. Kilgore's story fails to capitalize on potentially intriguing conflicts and character motivations that might have spiced up the dry, textbook-like narrative. (Oct.) 
Reviewed on: 11/28/2011
Release date: 09/01/2011
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Paperback - 271 pages - 978-1-4152-0071-1
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