So I am joining. Just like that. I am a soldier. – From Beasts of No Nation, page 11 –
Uzodinma Iweala set out to tell a universal story about terrible violence and brutality. It is a story, set in an unnamed African nation, about a child soldier named Agu who is recruited by a ruthless commandant The novel unfolds through Agu’s unique voice, which is at once both foreign and difficult to understand as it is poetic.
I must admit to some ambivalence around Agu’s voice. Initially, I was put off by the lilting choppiness of it – but as I read, it took on a lyrical and rhythmic quality that seemed to suit the subject matter. There are times when the reader feels almost as if she is watching a dream unfold.
The novel flows from past to present to a boy’s fantasies of an uncertain future. It gives the reader glimpses into Agu’s life before war came to his tiny village, and then reveals the numbing and harsh realities of his present life. Agu’s friend, Strika, is equally haunting though we hear his voice only once. When Agu sees Strika drawing a picture in the dirt of a man and woman with no head he begins to understand his friend’s silence.
– From Beasts of No Nation, page 36 –
Beasts of No Nation is a devastating novel about a boy’s shattered life. It is a demanding book which although slim, packs a huge punch. Sorrowful and stunning in its simple narration – this book will weigh heavily on the reader’s heart.
Passages from the Novel:
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