Thursday, July 28, 2016

Book Review: The Fisherman by Chigozie Obioma

I read this book via audiobook. Mostly because it was available for download immediately.
The Goodreads Summary (truncated):
"Told from the point of view of nine year old Benjamin, the youngest of four brothers, The Fishermen is the story of an unforgettable childhood in 1990s Nigeria, in the small town of Akure. When their strict father has to travel to a distant city for work, the brothers take advantage of his extended absence to skip school and go fishing. At the ominous, forbidden nearby river, they meet a dangerous local madman who persuades the oldest of the boys that he is destined to be killed by one of his siblings. What happens next is an almost mythic event whose impact-both tragic and redemptive-will transcend the lives and imaginations of its characters and its readers. Dazzling and viscerally powerful, The Fishermen never leaves Akure but the story it tells has enormous universal appeal."

What I Thought About It:

First off, I love audiobooks where the reader has a non-US accent. It adds an authenticity to the story. Of course, I don't know if the reader is actually Nigerian, but I totally bought it

Anyway. This story is about four brothers who are growing up withing a close knit family until their father is sent to work in the city. Without his tight reign on the boys, they start to run a little wild, until they meet a man in the village who is known for fornicating with corpses and predicting the future. The man predicts that the eldest brother will die by the hand of a fisherman which is just what the boys have been trying to become. The story, told from the perspective of the youngest brother, Benjamin, is well- told and emotional. It is interwoven with Ben's memories of how the family has grown together and his ideas about why they are growing apart. Ben does not always understand everything, but he understands his love for his brothers, even as tragedy happens in response to the madman's prophecy. In the end, just before he is to move away to Canada (his dream!), Ben is talked into a hair-brained plan that changes his life, yet again. And forever. 

I loved the story and the lessons that Ben is trying to learn along the way. His father, after learning of the boys's attempts to become Fishermen at the river, whip each in turn. Then he tells them to be Fishermen of life. It's a bitter sweet moment in the book, like so many others. I also loved Ben's flashback memories and his recounts of his parent's interactions.

I don't think I've given too many 5 stars this year, but this one will likely make the list. It would also make a good Book Club read as it would allow people to talk about the role of fear on our behavior and our "fate." Also to consider: would this family have suffered without the prediction of a madman?

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Thinking about buying this (or another) book? Consider linking through my blog. I hope to use funds for a Blogiversary giveaway in October!

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