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Nairobi To Shenzhen: A Novel of Love in the East Paperback – October 20, 2009

15 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


The mixed-race son of a brilliant but troubled Kenyan academic and a white American woman writes an emotionally wrenching book about his search for identity and self." --Keith Richburg, The Washington Post

From the Author

Dear Reader:

Nairobi to Shenzhen has recently caused some spirited discussion around the world about domestic violence, which I experienced growing up in Nairobi. This is a subject that is often swept under the rug. People just do not want to talk about it. However, since the book came out, I have seen a groundswell of interest around the world, including many who have contacted me to express their understanding and support for bringing out this topic.

My novel is also about other, perhaps more important things, such as seeking one's dream, even in far-off places, love, and the power of volunteerism.

The importance of helping others is something I quite slowly grew to realize, but crystallized in my move to China. Although, to me, helping children learn piano a few hours a month, seems quite normal, I realize that the unique attention the book has garnered can also inspire others. I remember when one of my own students, now in university, called me one weekend and said "Mark I am now teaching kids for free myself every Sunday." Small ways to help others can spread around in unexpected ways.

This 2nd edition corrects a number of typographical errors in the first release and some historical and factual errors.

Mark Okoth Obama Ndesandjo Shenzhen, December 2009


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 345 pages
  • Publisher: Aventine Press (October 20, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1593306237
  • ISBN-13: 978-1593306236
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #949,147 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

27 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Lisa Wixon on November 8, 2009
Format: Paperback
Mark Ndesandjo has not had an easy life. Mark started his young years in Kenya where he was beaten by his late father,Barack Obama. Mark also wanted to protect his Mum from this brutal man but as a small child he felt helpless. As an adult some of his experiences made him passionate about helping suffering children. Mark currently helps orphans in China, dedicating much of his life to giving these children some hope and a direction (he teaches them piano for example). Mark is a brilliant piano player and due to his need to escape the horrors of his young life, he immersed himself into music, literature and physics. Mark turned his negative past experiences and channeled them into a positive future. He will continue to reach out and send the world the message that domestic violance will not be tolerated and that everyone should help out people in need. Mark also sends a message that there is always hope when you have a passion.This book was written so magically bringing this semi autobiographical novel into a true work of art. Very interesting novel that is hard to stop reading!! I almost forgot,Mark shares the same father as his famous brother, President Barack Obama!
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Susan L. Metzger on November 29, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I expected flawless grammar and sophisticated structure from this half-brother of our Barack Obama, who is so articulate and uses the English language nearly flawlessly. However, there are so many problems with the writing in this novel as to almost keep me from reading the second half. Introductory phrases are not followed by commas, so the meanings of many sentences are confusing, and I have to re-read many sentences in order to realize their meaning. There are missing periods, extra periods, missing commas, extra commas, misspelled words, missing words, duplicated words, weird speaker tags, missing speaker tags so that one gets lost and doesn't know who is speaking in a conversation. Weirdly, the font size will change now and then for no apparent reason. And quotation marks seem to be inserted haphazardly, so the reader is never certain when a piece of dialogue has ended or is being spoken by someone else.

Point of view is something that Mr. Ndesandjo apparently has never heard of before. As readers, we are drawn to HIS point of view. It is the one we care about. Yet, as author, he swings the reader wildly from his own POV to that of almost every character in the book, leaving the reader feeling jerked about and cheated, because just as we feel an intimate connection with the author as protagonist, we are suddenly thrust into the mind of a minor character we don't particularly care about and sent off to ponder this person's childhood. Very annoying.

Mr. Ndesandjo goes off on many tangents that have caused me, now at the halfway point, to begin skimming sections in order to get to the meat of the story.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Mahadeva on April 23, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Truly speaking, I could not even get into this book beyond the first few pages as it was so muddled and scattered here and there. Poetic references that took you nowhere and distracted the reader from any kind of flow to his story. I tried to scan other chapters to see if this literary trend continued, but could find no clarity or flow in any of them. In short, the only thing that was comprehensible and impactful was the author's telling of his early childhood and how he and his mother suffered physical and emotional abuse from his abusive father, Barak Obama, Sr. In spite of the fact that the author tried to detach himself from this part of his life, his pain and suffering came through and it left you wondering why his mother, an educated American woman, would have allowed this to continue for as long as it did. Having said that, I would not recommend this book to anyone - certainly not to purchase it as I believe it is a waste of money. Sadly, the libraries that I checked out did not even keep the book and after perusing it I could see why they made that choice. I wish good things for the author and hope that his life continues to get better and better and that he can erase the bad memories from his early life from his mind and being.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Jacques COULARDEAU on October 20, 2010
Format: Paperback
That's a book I wanted to read and when I started it I could not find any decent rhythm with it. I attribute that to the fact that the main character of what is announced as a novel is in fact the author. We never know where the limit between the novel and the autobiographical tale lies.

This ambiguity is bothering because we do not listen to a personal tale told by the main person concerned in the same way as we would read the tale of someone absolutely fictitious. And the fictitious evades me completely. Then the characters becoming real the story is not a story but some kind of report about some experience in China by one male African, whose mother is Jewish, whose father is Kenyan, who has lived and worked in both Kenya and the US, though many details are missing, who comes to Shenzhen with beautiful intentions about discovering China, the Chinese, helping children who need some help (he will choose orphans in an orphanage), and just experiencing the foreign world into which he is throwing himself.

He tries to teach the piano to the orphans while he is teaching English to an expensive school for children who can pay the fees, hence the middle and upper middle class of Shenzhen. But we do not get any information about what he was really doing in the US and what his qualification as for music and piano playing, not to mention piano teaching, are. We are kept in the blue as for these details, thus background of the character.

That fuzziness is slowing down the reading. We constantly wonder why he does this or that, what his motivations and qualifications are.
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