Before the Knife by Carolyn Slaughter
Memories of an African Childhood

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In this unforgettable memoir, acclaimed novelist Carolyn Slaughter recalls her childhood in Africa and how the land itself released her from a rage that threatened to destroy her.

For Carolyn Slaughter, who grew up in Botswana in the 1950s, it was the Kalahari Desert that made life bearable. Her father was a cruel and violent district commissioner during the last days of British colonial rule, and their family’s stiff English facade masked an unspeakable household secret. But out in the bush, the intensity of the air and the beauty of the landscape touched her with a kind of feverish grace. She would disappear for hours to watch the flat brown river with its water lilies and crocodiles; the thorn trees and the flocks of flamingos; the local women with their babies strapped to their backs. Filled with the majesty and splendor of the ever-changing desert, Before The Knife is the deeply moving story of a girl who endured and transcended her family’s violence to emerge an impassioned observer and explicator of her world.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

About Carolyn Slaughter

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Carolyn Slaughter was born in New Delhi, India, and spent most of her childhood in the Kalahari Desert. She is the author of eight other novels and the memoir Before the Knife. She now lives in the United States.
Published December 18, 2007 by Vintage. 242 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction

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She eventually goes off to boarding school, where she shocks the nuns with her intransigence and ignorance, falls in love with a fellow student named Virginia (they become fast friends and do not, Slaughter declares, become physically intimate), and eventually(with the older Virginia as her mento...

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The Guardian

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Before the Knife: Memories of an African Childhood Carolyn Slaughter 254pp, Doubleday, £12.99 Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight: An African Childhood Alexandra Fuller 310pp, Picador, £15.99 Mention wildlife to white children brought up in Africa and nearly every one will talk not abo...

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BC Books

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This created time for the important things in life, like deciding what to wear for dinner, what would go with what, and whether the lunch invitees would gel.

Sep 01 2008 | Read Full Review of Before the Knife: Memories of...

London Review of Books

Veldskool – a compulsory annual week in the bush – was part of the national curriculum, for private schools as well as state ones.

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