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 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. 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.

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Critic Reviews (5)

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  1. Positive: 5 Out of 5
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Critical Consensus: Generally favorable.


27 Jan 2017
Once upon a time in Akure, a small town in western Nigeria, there lived four brothers: 15-year-old Ikena; 14-year-old Boja; 11-year-old Obembe; and our story’s narrator, 9-year-old Benjamin. They lived with their mother and father – a strict patr ...

The Telegraph

27 Jan 2017
This first novel by the 28-year-old Nigerian writer Chigozie Obioma is one of the final six contenders for this year’s Booker Prize. It’s a passionate, jostling and flamboyant piece of work, set in Nigeria during the military rule of the Nineties ...

The Atlantic

27 Jan 2017
Like many of the books on the Man Booker shortlist, The Fishermen—the debut novel of 28-year-old Chigozie Obioma, the youngest nominee—is unflinchingly dark. The book jacket uses the adjective “Cain and Abel-esque,” which gives readers a fair ...

The Guardian

27 Jan 2017
Four middle-class Nigerian brothers, Ikenna, Boja, Obembe and Benjamin, decide to go fishing in a river. They do this without their mother’s knowledge, carefully hiding away their fishing kit when they come home. Their career lasts six weeks before ...

The Bookbag

26 Jan 2017
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 u ...

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Cassava Republic (Nigeria)
Little, Brown and Company (USA, UK)





Literary Awards:

Man Booker Prize, Nominee (2015)
Guardian First Book Award, Nominee (2015)
The Center for Fiction First Novel Prize, Shortlisted (2015)
Goodreads Choice Award for Debut Goodreads Author, Nominee (2015)
The FT/Oppenheimer Awards, Shortlisted (2015)

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