A powerful, haunting tale of grief, healing, and sibling loyalty.

THE FISHERMEN

Life changes dramatically for Benjamin, the fourth of six children, when his father, Eme, is transferred to the town of Yola by his employer, leaving his mother to raise him and his siblings back home in Akure, Nigeria in the 1990s.

Adrift without their father’s presence, Benjamin and his elder brothers, Ikenna, Boja, and Obembe, find a sense of purpose in fishing at Omi-Ala, the local river, where they have been forbidden to go because it's too dangerous. When their disobedience is discovered and swiftly punished, Eme encourages his sons to study harder at school and become “fishermen of the mind” rather than “the kind that fish at a filthy swamp.” Thus adjured, the boys agree to devote themselves to their education. But after local madman Abulu curses Ikenna and claims he will be murdered by his brothers, Ikenna begins to act out—disobeying their harried mother, running away, getting drunk, and beating up Boja. Desperate, their mother counts the days until their father will return home and straighten the boy out. But before Eme's arrival, Ikenna is found dead after his most vicious fight with Boja yet. The family is speedily forced to reckon with the violence that has torn them apart, and the joy of childhood which permeates Obioma’s lively, energetic debut novel thus swiftly becomes shadowed with the disturbing ghosts of Cain and Abel. Although Benjamin's first-person narration distances the reader from the emotional states of other characters at key moments—especially Benjamin's mother in the aftermath of so much loss—the talented Obioma exhibits a richly nuanced understanding of culture and character.

A powerful, haunting tale of grief, healing, and sibling loyalty.

Pub Date: April 14, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-316-33837-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2015

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ANIMAL FARM

A FAIRY STORY

A modern day fable, with modern implications in a deceiving simplicity, by the author of Dickens. Dali and Others (Reynal & Hitchcock, p. 138), whose critical brilliance is well adapted to this type of satire. This tells of the revolt on a farm, against humans, when the pigs take over the intellectual superiority, training the horses, cows, sheep, etc., into acknowledging their greatness. The first hints come with the reading out of a pig who instigated the building of a windmill, so that the electric power would be theirs, the idea taken over by Napoleon who becomes topman with no maybes about it. Napoleon trains the young puppies to be his guards, dickers with humans, gradually instigates a reign of terror, and breaks the final commandment against any animal walking on two legs. The old faithful followers find themselves no better off for food and work than they were when man ruled them, learn their final disgrace when they see Napoleon and Squealer carousing with their enemies... A basic statement of the evils of dictatorship in that it not only corrupts the leaders, but deadens the intelligence and awareness of those led so that tyranny is inevitable. Mr. Orwell's animals exist in their own right, with a narrative as individual as it is apt in political parody.

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 1946

ISBN: 0452277507

Page Count: 114

Publisher: Harcourt, Brace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1946

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FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS

This is good Hemingway. It has some of the tenderness of A Farewell to Arms and some of its amazing power to make one feel inside the picture of a nation at war, of the people experiencing war shorn of its glamor, of the emotions that the effects of war — rather than war itself — arouse. But in style and tempo and impact, there is greater resemblance to The Sun Also Rises. Implicit in the characters and the story is the whole tragic lesson of Spain's Civil War, proving ground for today's holocaust, and carrying in its small compass, the contradictions, the human frailties, the heroism and idealism and shortcomings. In retrospect the thread of the story itself is slight. Three days, during which time a young American, a professor who has taken his Sabbatical year from the University of Montana to play his part in the struggle for Loyalist Spain and democracy. He is sent to a guerilla camp of partisans within the Fascist lines to blow up a strategic bridge. His is a complex problem in humanity, a group of undisciplined, unorganized natives, emotionally geared to go their own way, while he has a job that demands unreasoning, unwavering obedience. He falls in love with a lovely refugee girl, escaping the terrors of a fascist imprisonment, and their romance is sharply etched against a gruesome background. It is a searing book; Hemingway has done more to dramatize the Spanish War than any amount of abstract declamation. Yet he has done it through revealing the pettinesses, the indignities, the jealousies, the cruelties on both sides, never glorifying simply presenting starkly the belief in the principles for which these people fought a hopeless war, to give the rest of the world an interval to prepare. There is something of the implacable logic of Verdun in the telling. It's not a book for the thin-skinned; it has more than its fill of obscenities and the style is clipped and almost too elliptical for clarity at times. But it is a book that repays one for bleak moments of unpleasantness.

Pub Date: Oct. 21, 1940

ISBN: 0684803356

Page Count: 484

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1940

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