Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Author Discovers That 'Home Is Self '

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Author Discovers That 'Home Is Self '

Article excerpt

Before traveling to Pittsburgh to speak about her new memoir, "Leaving Before the Rains Come," Alexandra Fuller was on her parents' farm in Zambia, near the Zambezi River, and away from a reliable cellular signal or Internet access.

"I have to go to a pub at the river's edge to pick up/send email, which I do less and less the longer I'm here. It feels like an intrusion into real life," she responded via email.

That very evening, Ms. Fuller said, her father "got up from the dinner table to shoot a cobra."

Rural southern Africa is such a vivid presence in Ms. Fuller's writing; the experience of growing up on a farm in Zimbabwe (then Rhodesia), Malawi and Zambia is rendered in rich sensory detail in her first memoir, the 2001 best-selling "Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight." Her second memoir, "Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness," tells the story of her mother's coming-of-age in Africa, and the early days of her parents' marriage amid political instability.

Her third memoir, "Leaving Before the Rain Comes," narrates the disintegration of her 20-year marriage to Charlie Ross. The couple met in Africa but moved to Wyoming after Ms. Fuller suffered from continual bouts of malaria.

She will speak at 7:30 p.m. Monday at Carnegie Music Hall in Oakland as part of the Pittsburgh Arts & Lectures Literary Evenings series.

"Leaving" is a divorce memoir, but it's also about making peace with the past, finding home and having the courage to face difficult situations and make the right decisions.

Ms. Fuller and Mr. Ross bonded over their mutual love for Africa, but once the couple relocated to the United States, things began to change.

"Africa is [and] was my first, deepest and most enduring love. . Maybe all true love is a sort of love triangle. In other words, there has to be something larger and more wild and interesting and important than the couple. For most people this ends up being the kids. In our family, it was always land," Ms. Fuller said.

Still, she is adamant that "home is self."

"It's taken me longer to realize this than it should," she said.

"Leaving" circles back to Africa and the events of childhood, including her mother's alcoholism, mental illness and the death of her sister, Olivia. …

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