An entrepreneur’s debut memoir takes him from the wilds of Ethiopia to the neon lights of Hollywood.
In 1986, Bogale’s parents were told he’d died in utero, so they traveled to the closest hospital, almost 250 miles from their home in Ethiopia’s Amaro Mountains. After discovering that he was, in fact, alive, they rejoiced and named him “Tariku,” or “the story.” The joy ended, however, when Bogale’s father divorced his mother within a few years and took him away to another village. (Later, when Bogale was living alone, he took in his impoverished mother and siblings.) As a teen, he enrolled in computer classes and started a company called Advanced Computer Technology. The memoir’s action-packed first part is by far its most engaging, painting a vivid picture of the author’s early hardships. After being arrested for faking a Tanzanian passport at 16, Bogale spent months in a nightmarish prison. He finally made it to South Africa, where he hired a white man “to negotiate sometimes,” because local racists didn’t want to pay a black man. Undaunted, he ventured into several other businesses and became rich; he also got married, which didn’t last. Part II is also intriguing, detailing how Bogale built a shopping center after fighting corrupt, powerful forces. In spy-thriller fashion, the memoir takes the author to Switzerland, where he ran afoul of immigration authorities, met an attorney and former model named Naomi, and found that his jackets kept getting stolen. In Part III, Naomi’s doppelgänger (or possibly Naomi herself) reappears in New York; after several rambling pages, however, she simply leaves. Part IV, however, will appeal to fans of lavish Hollywood lifestyles; the author seems extremely label-conscious (he doesn’t just drive—he drives a Mercedes-Benz SL550) and drops famous names, such as director Steven Spielberg’s. Still, Bogale’s friendly narrative voice always emanates confidence: “You might say that I have the heart and the senses of a lion, noble in its bearing, attuned to the sounds and smells of his environment, and able to pounce with great ferocity to make his killing.”
A high-speed, energetic tale of a sometimes-bumpy ride from rags to riches.