This book is essentially a cautionary family tale of four brothers and the way they react to a prophecy about them by the local madman. It is also, in a sense, a coming-of-age story where Ben, the young narrator, is plunged into premature adulthood under the most brutal of circumstances. And it is about brotherly love. None of these descriptions, however, convey the fact that this book is written by an exciting new voice in African literary fiction.
Obioma paints an astonishingly vivid picture of life in a Nigerian town in the 1990s. The book references rather than focuses on war, civil disturbance, dictatorships, riots and crime while day-to-day Nigerian life, and the machinations of family and the surrounding community, are evident in every scene. There is that strange mix of sibling rivalry and hero worship of the older boys by their younger brothers. There is the gradual unravelling of the family as Ikenna, the bold eldest brother, is irretrievably stripped of his strength as he falls prey to the insidious nature of suspicion.
The plot itself is simple - a straight narrative from cause to effect, with little in the way of sub-plot. But what Obioma lacks in subplot he more than makes up for in narrative detail. Indeed, it is this detail that is the abiding strength of the novel and the masterstroke of the author. He inserts, almost as an aside, details that might make you laugh, or ... Read Full Review