"We were fishermen:"
In a Nigerian town in the mid 1990's, four brothers encounter a madman whose mystic prophecy of violence threatens the core of their close-knit family. 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 1990's 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. Seen through the prism of one family's destiny, this is an essential novel about Africa with all of its contradictions-economic, political, and religious-and the epic beauty of its own culture. With this bold debut, Chigozie Obioma emerges as one of the most original new voices of modern African literature, echoing its older generation's masterful storytelling with a contemporary fearlessness and purpose.
This book is not about fishermen, don't make the same mistake I did and glance at the cover and jacket copy and take it for face value. I'm not into fishing, AT ALL. I would find a book about fishing to be torture. Why did I pick this up? Because I've heard great things around the bookternet and it was sitting front & center at the local library, whispering "take me, take me". The colorful cover helps it stand out as well. This was... (dun, dun, dun) the very first book I borrowed from my new local library in Bristol, CT. Yay for libraries. Overall, a great choice because the day after I picked it, the Booker prize longlist came out and The Fishermen was on it. Not that I care about literary awards but I do like ANYTHING competition as long as I'm involved some way (MasterChef being one of my favorite shows). However, if I haven't read many on the list, I won't care at all. This year it looks like I might have an opinion on the matter, which is pretty cool.
So, The Fishermen is another tragic story, so many of these this year (or at least the ones I've been reading). This one didn't resonate personally with me that much (I'm an only child - kind of - in a way - ugh, long story) and I can't relate to having such a connection with a brother/sister. The whole story is that relationship, and done REALLY well. The Author did such a great job placing you right in the middle of Nigeria in the 90's. I felt the deep connection between the brothers and the rips that started to form. The standout theme for me was destiny... the strength and power that words and beliefs can hold. Those that believe in premonitions and destiny, sometimes can make it come true. Think of how you can feel a little sick, or your partner gets sick... some people can WILL themselves into believing they will get sick too. I'm sorry, what a ramble. I just don't want to talk about the plot too much without giving anything away.
My final word on this one... read it. This will be unique enough to feel fresh, compelling enough to feel quick and diverse enough to feel cultured. I can see why this was included on the Booker longlist but I will be cheering for "A Little Life" for the win. The Fishermen has all the right stuff to be a great contender and I hope the inclusion of it within the longlist will cause more people to pick this one up.
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