Cover Image: The Eternal Audience of One

The Eternal Audience of One

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Member Reviews

This book is kind of my everything. It’s my type of summer read: smart, deep, layered, funny, different, interesting, beautiful, and full of important themes that must be read, acknowledged, and understood. It’s funny, in the US we watch the news, read a few books, watch a few documentaries and think that we have a good idea about life in different African countries, but we know next to nothing, apart from our prejudices. In 2018 I made it a point to read books from African writers from every country on the continent, and it has been such a beneficial, and ongoing journey. I would recommend this book to everyone - it’s lyrical and beautiful, relatable, and so funny at times that you laugh out loud (but keep your tissue box handy too because you will cry). 

Séraphin is in his last year of law school at Remms, a prestigious university in Cape Town. He didn’t really want to study law, and has a penchant for the written word rather than law itself, but did it because it was one of his parents wishes. His family live in Windhoek, Namibia, refugees from Rwanda where they fled for their lives in 1994. He has a tight group of friends, who call themselves the High Lords of Empireland, and they spend a lot of time going out, drinking, dancing, and having fun, just like any students do. Séraphin isn’t ready to graduate, and definitely not ready to move back to Windhoek, a place he finds boring and predictable. But he also doesn’t really know what he wants to do either, not sure whether Cape Town is where he wants to set his roots.

The narrative doesn't follow a straight line, and I am someone who really enjoys that type of sequence. I loved how we follow Séraphin’s thought process and life, but how we also jump backwards and forwards, discovering how his parents met and fell in love in Paris, or how Séraphin met his first love; learning how his family left a very comfortable life in Rwanda with nothing, and learned to live as “foreigners” in Namibia, never to be treated as citizens despite their hard work and ability to integrate into their new lives seamlessly, despite the trauma and horror left behind and in their hearts. 

Rémy Ngamije weaves the everyday microaggressions and full-on aggressions into the story: the remnants of Apartheid still deeply embedded in South African culture, but also the racial and class tensions in Namibia, and in other countries such as Uganda and Kenya. Séraphin’s friends come from different countries in Africa and are brought together for different reasons. Some of the writing is so perfectly balanced, there are times when you laugh and then cry within the same sentence. Some of it is so subtle that it only dawns on you pages later what the author’s intentions are, and some of it is so in your face that you can’t help laughing and relating to it. Séraphin is young, a little self-centered, smart, hilarious, and searching for something more, like most of us (at least I was) at his age. This is a coming of age novel, but also a story of migration, of growing up not knowing where home is, of friendship, of love, happiness, race, identity, and learning. And make sure you read the epilogue properly, because if you blink you will miss the ending that you are looking for.

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the advance copy in exchange for an honest review.
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Coming-of-age story set primarily in Namibia amongst a family of Htu refugees that fled Rwanda.
Seraphin, is an amicable young man trying to find his way as a lawyer in South Africa without the proper paperwork. Interspersed through the novel are many vignettes of his childhood and text exchanges between he and his friends.  Interestingly enough, he entertains several voices in his head when it's time to make a big decision. (and thus the title of the book).

This was a humorous novel with sharp and pleasant writing that allows the reader a window into the life of a middle class family in Africa.  I enjoyed very much learning about the lifestyle and culture but found the text messaging portions to be disruptive.  I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys coming of age stories - especially those of boys and anyone wanting to feel a part of a family in Africa. I look forward to another book by this author!
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I enjoyed this book but was confused sometimes with different settings. The characters were engaging but sometimes I would not know who was talking and follow what they were talking about. I liked the family dynamic and learning about the social happenings at that time.
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I'm not sure how I feel about "The Eternal Audience of One" by Remy Ngamije.  The idea for the book is very good; the coming of age story a young man trying to find his place in the world after his family flees from the genocide in Rwanda.  It was interesting to read about the racial and class tensions in Namibia and South Africa because Westerners tend to think those problems really only exist in places where the majority of the population is white.  The writing was very good in places; at times laugh-out-loud funny and others poignant and touching.  However, the story seemed loose and unorganized and I had difficulty following it.  I got bogged down in the nonlinear timeline and in Seraphin's odd conversations with himself.  I usually enjoy character-driven novels, but I kept waiting for something to happen.  I also found myself skimming the detailed descriptions of Seraphin's various sexual escapades.  I would have liked the characters to be developed more fully so they seem alive.

All in all, I think this was a good debut.  I'm thankful to NetGalley, the author, and the publisher for the opportunity to read an advanced digital edition of this book in exchange for my honest review.
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Thanks @netgalley and @simonandschuster for this ARC copy. 

This one was a little challenging for me. While the writing was well don’t and the sentences almost melodious at times, everything still seemed disjointed. The time line wasn’t clear at first when it switched between chapters. The main character was not a good person, and I have a hard time rooting for those characters when they don’t seem to gain any redemption. This coming of age book dove into sexuality a lot, which I know that’s a common theme in this genre, but this was just over the top. 
2.5 ⭐️
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This book had an interesting premise to me, and while I enjoyed the setting and the way the author describes situations, I just couldn't get into the characters. I wanted to like them, but I just couldn't connect on the level I usually can.  I feel like the plot just moved a bit too slowly and the dialogue was a little too heavy for me, and it made it hard to stick with this book. I do love the way the author writes descriptively, and I could feel myself in the settings that each character went through. I can see why others really enjoy this book, but I just don't think it was for me.
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It only takes a few sentences of this book to realize that one is in the company of a capable author. Remy has distinct voice and style. I loved reading life through Seraphin's perspective in his university and hometown. Some of his struggles are universal and I could easily relate to them. Other struggles are more particular to his Namibian and Rawandan roots and I felt like a fascinated traveler that gets the rare privilege's of seeing day to day life of people from other lands. there is a sec scene that although is not told with sensationalism, really took me out of the narrative and I wish it had been done differently.
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This is one of those odd books I wasn’t sure what to make of it.  Great writing, lots of clever one liners, interesting characters.  But it also seemed to just meander at times.  It’s told in a nonlinear style so it doesn’t always flow smoothly.  
Seraphin is in his final year of law school in Cape Town. He landed in law school, not because of any desire, but because what else could he do with an English degree?  His Rwandan family was forced to flee during the civil war and landed in Namibia.   As “foreigners” they are given fewer opportunities and expected to do more to even keep their jobs.  The parents put a lot of pressure on Seraphin to graduate and get a good job as a corporate lawyer.  (There’s no money in human rights law.) 
It was interesting for me as an older woman to have the perspective of a young man.  There’s a lot about sex- doing, thinking, a lot of partying, a lot of trading quips.  
I loved the points made about being a refugee, of the immigrant experience and creating a new home.  
The book's blurbs make much about the book’s humor, but it’s an angry humor.  It’s the humor of those dealing with being made to feel inferior, of being perpetually treated as second class.  
There are some interesting writing techniques here.  For example, there are multiple Seraphin voices that argue and talk among themselves.  Because, don’t we all have that?   
I'm sure I’m not the intended audience. I appreciated the book but didn’t love it.  I was looking for a more definite ending, more of a resolution.  It just sort of ended.  
My thanks to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster for an advance copy of this book.
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This is the story of a twenty-something Rwandan refugee who spent his childhood in Namibia and is in his final year of law school in Cape Town, South Africa. Seraphin is on the cusp of graduation, but has no sense of direction. His family in Namibia has expectations that he doesn’t think he can live up to, and practicing law does not appeal to him in the least. He is much more interested in the dating scene, hanging out with his friends, and making playlists for every mood to act as a soundtrack for his many life adventures. Seraphin’s eventual epiphany comes as he realizes that he is not so different from his parents as he imagined.

Throughout this coming-of-age novel, themes of refugee stigma and racism are woven within as the plot unfolds via flashbacks, text conversations, and Seraphin’s current state of mind. It was eye opening to consider the barriers that refugees face in Africa, from social ostracization to limited job opportunities, even for the highly educated. The racism Seraphin faces at university and in city life in Cape Town are infuriating, and his frustrations with an enabling system are palpable. That being said, his story is very relatable as a young man trying to find his place in the world while balancing the hopes of his parents against his own wishes.

There are many aspects of this novel that I appreciated. The writing is very of the moment, with pop culture references and text conversation among friends sprinkled throughout the narrative. There is frequent humor interspersed with the more serious themes, and Seraphin definitely has a sense of fun and adventure. I also found that there is a great deal of wisdom dished out by the elder characters in Seraphin’s life.

To be honest, my biggest turnoff in this work is the sheer amount of sexual conquests that Seraphin takes part in. Perhaps it’s just that I’m not the target audience for this particular novel, but the way he goes after women as somewhat of a game did not appeal to me. I did, however, greatly appreciate the frank and natural inclusion of the use of condoms in most every encounter as I feel it was not at all awkward and normalized the responsible practice. It was just part of the process, and I don’t often see it addressed in fiction in this way. Bravo for that! 

My only other criticism is that the story is told from multiple points of view as we learn the history of Seraphin’s parents and other characters and how it relates to his current situation in life. While this in and of itself is not a problem, I did sometimes get confused as to where the story was in time or whose perspective was being used and found that it did interrupt the flow in places. 

Overall, this is a worthwhile read. It gives some insight into refugee life and racism in Africa, is relatable as a coming-of-age story, and has a very modern vibe.
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The Eternal Audience of One is a coming of age story told with a bit of humor and wit. Remy Ngamije has a beautiful way to weave a story, his use of language and words is refreshing and unique. The story itself for me was just okay, it is very character centered and the lack of action left me a bit underwhelmed and bored at times.  The story follows the main character Seraphin, a Rwanda born refugee that seems to be floating through life constantly looking for "home" but not quite knowing what he is supposed to be looking for. He moves through places and people, in particular women that are basically disposable and he treats them as such. I did enjoy the conversations of the High Lords of Empireland, the group of friends that Seraphin has surrounded himself with at school and found those excerpts were where the story has some personality to it. The non linear telling of the story and the weird conversations where Seraphin talked to himself kept bringing me out of the story and I failed to connect emotionally with any of the characters.  Coming of age stories tend to be a hit or miss with me though so for folks that enjoy them or enjoy heavily character led stories this would be great pick. 
Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for providing me with an arc in exchange for an honest  review.
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On its funny, witty surface this tale of the final year of law school follows the escapades of Séraphin, originally from Rwanda, grown up in Namibia, and currently attending school in Cape Town, South Africa. However, it is suffused with feelings of otherness, class, and race making for a deeper story, indeed.

This story is well-written with a light touch as it moves gracefully through the relationships and changes experienced by someone in their early twenties. Friendships are found and lost, relationships spark and break, and all the while the next stage of adulthood looms like a beacon just ahead.

Perhaps one of the most formative questions in this story is, “What is the meaning of home?” or “What makes a home at all?”

Enjoyable, a hearty read!
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In short: Seraphin's family escaped Rwanda when he was young and landed in Namibia. He is now in Cape Town about to finish law school but the wanderlust feeling never goes away. 
My thoughts: This was a good book exploring issues of race, love, immigrant life and searching for the need to belong or what you're meant to be. This book is definitely more character focused and it was interesting to see how he navigated through life. There was a little too much meandering and college age discussions for me.
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Seraphin, our main character, is from a family who escaped Rwanda and landed in Namibia, and that feeling of displacement and not knowing where he's meant to be or what he's meant to be doing follows him through his college years. It's his last year of law school, but he doesn't really want to be a lawyer. Seraphin has always enjoyed and been good at writing, but was told there was no future in that (adding even more to his listlessness in life.) He doesn't let himself get attached to people, and keeps himself a lot of company within his own head. At first, it's confusing when multiple Seraphins talk, but eventually it becomes normal and makes more sense. 

I wouldn't say there's necessarily a storyline that you follow while reading this book. It seems to me more like a flow-of-consciousness of Seraphin, in a way. The story fluctuates in speed and intensity. Overall, it is a good read, but the way time jumps around takes some getting used to. Once you settle in, you can really get into the story and the characters. It's almost existential, which I liked.

Thanks to Netgalley and Gallery Books for an e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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Seraphin Turihamwe is a young man whose life is characterized by movement. His family left Rwanda under duress and moved to Namibia where he cannot feel at home. But moving to Cape Town for college does not cure his need to wander. He does meet several friends, though, as he explores issues of family, race, immigrant life, and love.
The book offers a quick look at how different people can experience racism, colorism and immigration. I appreciated the glimpses into the inner lives of Seraphin, his family members and his friends. The author doesn't get very deep into any of the characters, though. And the poetic attempts to build tension fall flat.
I would have liked this story so much better if it wasn't filled with graphic sexual encounters. Those scenes made Seraphin and the other characters seem pretty shallow and used a lot of words that could have gone to character development.
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This was a trip down memory lane of high school and university. I had to pull up my own old playlists on my now defunct iPod. Seraphin's immigrant tale is familiar to anyone who hasn't had to grow up in our parent's world and our country of birth for whatever reason, the embedded sense of perpetual gratitude that we need to convey to all the aunties and uncles and any elder from the old  country is conveyed in such a natural way. Seraphin is a middle  class immigrant through and through who rejects the responsibilities on a first born child in as many ways as he can. He is irreverent, deluded, hilarious and self centered. I am at the age now where I sympathized more with Sera's parents than him but my inner college kid deeply felt all of his emotions of wanting to leave home and find himself. It did take a few chapters to process the nonlinear timeline but it was a minor inconvenience to an otherwise splendid debut.
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This was a very powerful book that left a mark on my soul. 
I was able to feel the writing and experience the story as best as I could. 
The story was moving and spoke of serious topics. 
The author is very talented and I enjoyed his writing style. 
The author is very talented. 
I deeply enjoyed this book and found it spoke of serious topics with my soul. 
I recommend that you read this book
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At times, I soared through The Eternal Audience of One. Other times, I plodded. Perhaps that's more the fault of my feeble attention span  than the author's writing.  The novel is basically about Seraphin, a young Rwandan-born  Namibian, and his family who fled genocide in Rwanda.  In many ways, it's a coming-of-age (cringe using that term) novel about Seraphin leaving home to discover who he can become, the lawyer his family hopes he'll become or something else.  Much of the novel is about his new friendships, his independence, and seeing how he belongs in this world.  

The books covers interesting topics about family relationships, migration, racial identity, and life as a refugee.  Ngamije uses humor and has a wry insight, which moves the novel forward.  For me, some of it felt more geared for a YA/college audience, and if I were still teaching YA at the university, I think I would use this as a textbook.  It's an enjoyable read.
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Very entertaining and informative reading. I always look forward, when reading a book that takes place in Africa, to obtaining cultural and historical insights.  I was not disappointed.  The main character (a twenty something law student who shares some of his sexual escapades) and his family fled Ruwanda to Namibia and felt the sting of being considered undesirable refugees. Lots of the dialogue is humerous and pithy plus woven all through  the character interactions are their own stereotypical opinions of refugees, black/white issues and family interactions and relationships.
The writing is excellent,  as evidenced by the fact that even though I  am a 68 year old white woman and not a 20 something hormonally driven male, it kept my interest. While I don't usually read coming of age stories, the reviews attracted me immediately.  I do believe that in the hands if a less skilled author, I might not have finished his book.
Not sure if I  missed it, but I felt the ending was a little abrupt as in, what did he do after law school?
A great book for a book club discussion.
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A young man longing to get away from the obligations his family and home connects deeply with a group of friends at University.
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This one took me a while to get into, but I liked it once I was a few chapters in. The author has a talent for description that flows breezily along, not seeming labored or too intentional. He relies quite a bit on repetition, as one particular event repeats at the end of many chapters, which is an interesting, not-so-common way of organizing the narrative. I think it works well.

For me, this book is more about characters and settings than plot. It focus on Séraphin, a Namibian student studying law in South Africa. He and his family were refugees to Namibia from Rwanda at the onset of the Rwandan genocide, and the question of identity appears frequently throughout the book. His parents worry that he's not Rwandan enough, he's torn between Namibia and South Africa... lots of food for thought here.
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