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An African in Greenland (New York Review Books Classics) Paperback – October 31, 2001
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Top Customer Reviews
Kpomassie is an excellent observer, and this book is as good an introduction to Greenlandic culture as Gretel Ehrlich's "This Cold Heaven". Kpomassie is a much more straightforward writer than Ehrlich, and this book therefore makes an easier read. The reader gets to learn about two exotic cultures: Kpomassie's tales of his upbringing in the Mina tribe of Togo is as interesting as his travels in Greenland.
(1=poor 2=mediocre 3=pretty good 4=very good 5=phenomenal)
Born in French Togoland in West Africa, Kpomassie developed a passionate interest in Greenland after reading about it as a teenager. He left home shortly afterward in 1958 and, having little money, spent eight years working his way through Ghana, Senegal, France, Germany and Denmark before finally boarding a ship for his ultimate destination. It appears he was the first black African to visit Greenland, and his descriptions of his reception on arrival there are among the book's highlights.
Landing near the island's southwestern tip, he traveled slowly up the western coast, staying for long periods of time with friendly families who kindly took him in. He'd hoped to reach the town of Thule in the northwest, but made it only two-thirds of the way before deciding to return home to share his experiences with his countrymen. Though he never reached his final destination or got to live in an igloo like he'd planned, he enjoyed many other experiences such as driving a dogsled, seeing icebergs up close and fishing on the ice.
His descriptions of people and landscapes were impressive, bleak though they were at times. There were many scenes of poverty, squalor, boredom and heavy drinking among the locals. On the other hand, nearly everyone was very open and sharing with him. The writer was a good observer and often compared local practices with those of his own culture to find differences and similarities.Read more ›
In June, sometime in the mid-1960s, he leaves at last for Greenland, ill-equipped but full of enthusiasm, trusting in his ability to make his way in that country and to become part of the Eskimo culture there. Leaving in a cargo boat with eight other passengers, he enjoys the long days of the midnight sun, which are then lead to ice floes and icebergs as he approaches Cape Farewell, the southernmost tip of Greenland. His arrival in “K’akortoq” is as exciting for the inhabitants as it is for Kpomassie: “So intense was the silence, you could have heard a gnat in flight.”
The local inhabitants are universally hospitable, providing a place for him to stay and sharing meals and drink. Their children are allowed to do what they want, with little discipline.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Fascinating travel book, in which the reader encounters two vastly different societies. The author describes his young life in Togo, culminating in a visit to a - wonderfully... Read morePublished 1 month ago by sally tarbox
This memory of this book will stay with me for the rest of my reading life. It is the most unlikely tale, beautifully wrought, of a young man's determination to escape horrifying... Read morePublished 2 months ago by keetmom
best book I have read in a long time. hard to put down. every page is wonderfully written. holds your attentionPublished 10 months ago by sheilaware
An insightful travelogue. Reading of the daily life/culture of the Greenlanders is enhanced by the perspective of a guest from Togo. Read morePublished 20 months ago by D. Thompson
Tete-Michek Kpomassi stepped outside his tradition. He would not stay with his Watyi tribe in Togo and revere his elders, swelter in the heat or do any further penance to... Read morePublished on March 9, 2014 by Loves the View
This book is unpleasant to read, too long, and very unfair. The author travels from africa to Greenland where he lives off of the genorosity of the native people who feed and cloth... Read morePublished on February 12, 2014 by Steven R. Severance
This guy leaves Togo as a teenager, works his way to France, and accomplishes his dream of going to Greenland. Read morePublished on July 11, 2013 by B. Wolinsky
This is an incredible story!! Very inspiring and quite unbelievable. The descriptions were so vivid. It makes me want to visit Greenland.Published on June 7, 2013 by Parisbound
Loved this story--amazing accomplishment, stunning perspective...I would recommend this text to anyone. Such an adventurous live! Loved it, would read it again.Published on April 28, 2013 by Laura J.F. Mullen