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Thursday, September 17, 2015

The Fishermen by Chigozie Obioma

This book was short listed for the Booker Prize this year, which is how I picked it up to read.

This book focuses on the relationship of four brothers growing up in Nigeria.  They are growing up on the brink of change, where the move away from a traditional society has been accomplished in law, but the traditional ways continue.  The boys have strict rules to live by, but they largely ignore them.  Their mother wants to keep them safe, but there is just not enough to keep them occupied and they spend time by the river fishing.  There they get exposed to some dark magic, and it is the beginning of the end of their childhood.  Their father has been working to get the boys to North America, where he sees that there are more opportunities educationally as well as professionally.  He has assigned each of his boys an aspirational job for the future, but he has no way to help them do that in Nigeria.  Sadly, while he manages to find a way out, none of his boys are ultimately able to take advantage of that.  Instead, it is an unraveling that starts with a curse and ends with exile, death, and jail.  It is not a happy story, but it is beautifully told.

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