Before I Forget – Leonard Pitts (Literary Fiction, Book Review)

Frankly, I never thought Literary Fiction could be so interesting! I didn’t have an opinion on this genre because I always thought it was analogous with Fiction – Others, but now I want to read more books published in this genre. I guess age is also a factor in determining which genres we like.

‘Before I Forget’ is categorized in Literary Fiction > African American. I got this book during a free Kindle promotion by the author and since all the other reviewers were raving about this book, I was tempted to read this first, before others. Frankly, I have a pile of books (in electronic format) to be read!

Coming to this book, it’s the story of a famous yesteryear singer and how he comes to terms with his imminent death (Early-onset Alzheimer). While it is somewhat surprising to see how this diagnosis changes his attitude towards life – all of a sudden – the author has taken pains to get into the skin of this character and justify his inner transformation, especially aided by the situations that spring around him.

Certain events that happen around his son and his father – both of whom he has abandoned long since – prevent him from committing suicide, for the time being. From then on, he undertakes a journey with his son to meet his father, attempting to teach some valuable life-lessons to his son – who was earlier caught by police for robbery & suspected murder – on the way.

A very simple subject, but the masterly story-telling by the author takes this book into a different league. The author takes us to the very depth of human character and tries to make the readers understand what drives us to do certain things, and more importantly, how its implications stretch over generations. There are valuable lessons to the readers, as there are to the characters.

There is nothing artificial about this story – except a few events that happen near the climax – and it moves as though the author is narrating a true life story. That makes it a gem and I loved it. The author does touch upon the African-American issues, but only as a small part of the story. The message on that front is more sublime and I loved that too. Need to remember this, myself!

It seems this is the first book written by the author – Leonard Pitts – and it’s an excellent debut. When the history of his father is narrated, I felt emotionally chocked – this is very rare, and kudos to the author for making me believe and sympathize with the character so much!!

If you want to read a quality book that is focused more on the realistic side of life and still keeps you hooked throughout the story, this book is a must read. Because of this book, I have developed a new interest towards Literary Fiction. I have set my eyes on ‘And the Mountains Echoed’ by Khaled Hosseini & ‘The Book Thief’ by Markus Zusak. Both are in this genre and have got excellent reviews. Waiting to get my hands on them ASAP 🙂

  • You can buy this book from Amazon.in in India. (Disclaimer: This is an affiliate link and I may get a small commission if you buy the product after clicking on this link. Your price will not increase.)

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8 Replies to “Before I Forget – Leonard Pitts (Literary Fiction, Book Review)”

  1. I had the same opinion about Literary Fiction. I guess there is some kind of an aversion. But reading this review, specially about the way the author speaks about how and what drives human beings to do certain things, I guess this book would be interesting for me too!

  2. I didn’t like “And the mountains echoed” and “The book thief” 🙂 I would say read other books by Khalid Hosseini like Kite runner which was amazing. Some literary fictions are great, but some are not that good.
    This book sounds interesting. Will try to get hold of it.

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