Beyond the Book: Background information when reading Out of Shadows

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Out of Shadows

by Jason Wallace

Out of Shadows by Jason Wallace
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  • First Published:
    Apr 2011, 282 pages
    Paperback:
    Dec 2011, 282 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Tamara Smith

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All About Jason Wallace
Here is a short story about perseverance: Out of Shadows was rejected by agents and editors one hundred times before Jason Wallace's current publishing house bought it. One hundred times. And it just won the very prestigious Costa Children's Book of the Year Award (formerly the Whitbread Award). Thank goodness Jason didn't give up trying... or give up hope.

Jason Wallace Born in Cheltenham, England in 1969, Jason Wallace is related to J. R. R. Tolkien and is a descendant of one of the first International English cricketers and also of a famous Victorian circus owner named "Lord" George Sanger. Jason lived in south-west London during the early years of his childhood with his mother, but at age 12, when his mother remarried, he emigrated to Zimbabwe. He lived at a boarding school there, which became the foundation of memories he used for his novel, and it is interesting to note that included in those memories is an actual meeting with Robert Mugabe when he visited Jason’s school.

Jason decided to be a writer at age 17, but it took him another couple decades before he got anything published. He, like many dedicated writers, worked at his craft at night, during a free moment on the train, and through his lunch hours. When he finally began to write Out of Shadows, it took him about a year to complete the book and then another six months to revise it. And then... well, there was the long haul to find someone to buy it.

In a radio interview with Alex Bell on SW RadioAfrica, Jason speaks about his lack of understanding of what was truly going on in Zimbabwe while he was a student there. He was aware of undertones of the unrest and violence, but it was not as overt or as dark as he portrays in his book. When he finally realized what was going on around him, he was blown away by shock. And it is this combination - the deep impact this knowledge had on him and his very tangible memories - that finally combined and inspired him to write Out of Shadows.

As for what Jason hopes people will get out of the book? He says he would like people to see that there is good in the world and that there is bad, and we all have choices to make with regards to this. We can pursue either path, but which one will we each choose to follow? Thank goodness Jason Wallace chose to follow his heart and write this book.

For information on recent events in Zimbabwe, check out NPR's audio broadcast entitled "A Journalist Bears Witness to Mugabe's Massacre" (March 30, 2011).

Article by Tamara Smith

This article is from the April 20, 2011 issue of BookBrowse Recommends. Click here to go to this issue.

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