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Trinidad Express / THERE are books that deserve to be in a class of their own. High up on that list should be Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt. McCourt scored a literary touchdown with this memoir which is based on his life growing up in stark poverty in Ireland in the 1930s and 40s. I had noticed this book on bookshelves for some time but never gave it a second glance until I finally decided to give it a try. I was not disappointed. It’s the sort of book that stays with you long after you’ve put it down. McCourt won the 1997 Pulitzer Prize (Biography or Autobiography) for this memoir which was well deserved but one can hardly expect a book detailing the life of someone who grew up in destitution to be a walk in the park. The McCourt family suffered a string of tragedies, McCourt lost four siblings in death and even came close to death himself. His father was an alcoholic who often drank away the wages he earned, leaving his wife and boys to resort to charity, public assistance and begging before he finally abandoned them altogether. Angela’s Ashes is also a first-person account of an economically depressed time in Ireland’s history when babies and children died of preventable causes like hunger. McCourt’s writing is superb – that and his use of humour to make light of some of the experiences he had as a boy, makes reading this unforgettable memoir all the more worth it.

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