Friday, November 13, 2015

THE FISHERMEN by Chigozie Obioma

This elegant coming-of-age novel is told from the point of view of Benjamin Agwu, a 10-year old boy growing up in the small Nigerian village of Akure.  He bears witness to the breakdown of his family and his three older brothers Ikenna, Boja, and Obembe, after an encounter with Abulu the Madman, who's foreboding prophecy changes everything.

Debut author Chigozie Obioma shows true talent with imagery and smooth prose, giving the story a storybook, fable quality which Lends weight to the retrospective element of the novel. The book's biggest strength is the way it illustrates the characters almost immediately, really giving us a portrait of a genuine family and the dynamics between the brothers and the parents. The parents were especially compelling. When things go wrong, I immediately sympathized because I felt so familiar with these people and the community that surrounds them. Another thing that really works and that actually surprised me was the novel's historical aspect, where Obioma weaves in bits of Nigerian history in the 90's as a framework for the story. It's really interesting how the breakdown of the Agwu family parallels the change in their village and the political change in Nigeria in general. Although the pacing could've been a little more concise (it took me longer than I expected to finish), I was charmed by the characters, the lovely ending, and enjoyed the book as a whole. 
"I want you all to know that even though what you did was wrong, it reflected once again that you have the courage to indulge in something adventurous. Such adventurous spirit is the spirit of men. So from now onwards, I want you all to channel that spirit into something more fruitful...

What I want you to be is a group of fishermen who will be fishers of good dreams, who will not relentuntil they have caught the biggest catch. I want you to be juggernauts, menacing and unstoppable fishermen."

1 comment:

  1. I enjoyed reading this book. Kudos to Chigozie Obioma. I found your blog via a TBR tag on Folklore & Literacy.


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