Book Review: The Fishermen

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This review has been long overdue. I read The Fishermen some time ago following this brilliant review by the African Book Addict before the Booker long list was announced and I jumped right into the novel, with no inkling that it would fast become one of my favourite books of the year.
Written from the perspective of younger brother Benjamin, the novel follows the lives of four Nigerian brothers from a close knit family, their prophetic encounter with a madman and the devastating effect that one moment can generate. This notion of external forces wreaking havoc and destroying the great potential of the family is perhaps an allegory for Nigeria, the resource rich nation whose own story could be very different were it not for the ravages of foreign colonialism and internal corruption. But I digress. Whilst there is indeed an undercurrent of political discontent in the story, it is buried deep beneath a beautiful, engaging and intimate portrayal of a family in crisis. Obioma’s evocation of the minutiae of life and the foibles of this family are understated yet powerful, compelling the reader to fully imbibe the story. The language is simple, terse and simultaneously emotive, multifaceted and highly efficacious. The narrative, which switches between adult Benjamin and Benjamin as a child feels cathartic, brimmed with animalistic and esoteric allusions that serve as innocent, child -like signifiers of the imminent tragedy. This book is everything and more that I want in a novel, it left my head in that brilliant post good- book head –fog for about a week and my only complaint would be that Obioma doesn’t have another novel for me to read! With humble nods to the great Achebe throughout the book, Obioma looks set to follow the success of his literary forefather with this brilliant debut. And he certainly gets my vote for the Man Booker!

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9 comments

  1. YESS!! I love your concise review and I’m glad you loved the book! Ugh, its so satisfying when other readers understand why you love a book and the characters so much. And thanks for the shout-out! *hugs*

    **Spoiler Alert questions (in case other readers see this)**
    Who was your fave character? What scene was your favorite incident in the book? Does Obemebe come back at the end? I made my Mom read the book after me, and she says he does come back at the end. But the ending was too ambiguous for me to figure out if Obembe actually comes back, or if it was Ben’s imagination…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This year was the first time I followed the Man Booker prize, and I’m so glad I did. There are so many books from the list that I want to read (I’m rather late, I know haha!). This one sounds particularly interesting 🙂 Your review has encouraged me to read it even more! *quickly checks the library catalogue*

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks sarah.Im not usually one to follow books that have won prizes (until much later lol) but i saw a review of this on another blog before the long list came out and couldn’t resist! Tbh it’s that good that i’m tempted to start reading them all from now on!

      Like

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