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The Fishermen    by Chigozie Obioma order for
by Chigozie Obioma
Order:  USA  Can
Little, Brown & Co., 2015 (2015)
Hardcover, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Barbara Lingens

Set in Nigeria, this is the story of four brothers aged nine to fifteen. They have been raised well and are respectful of their parents, but they are boys, and when their father is posted to a job away from home so that he can only be there every other weekend, things change tragically.

Left to themselves, the brothers begin neglecting their studies and exploring the world of their town. For a while, with other friends, they try to be fishermen, dipping their lines in a river shunned by all. As their escapades increase, we meet some of the townspeople. A pivotal one is Abulu, a 'vision-seeing madman.' When he utters a curse that the oldest brother will die at the hands of a fisherman and the brother believes it, the tragedy begins to unfold.

Author Obioma has a distinctive way of letting us know what their life is like: Yola, the town to which the father is transferred is 'a camel distance of more than one thousand kilometres away.' The father speaks slowly, and 'every word tacked nine-inches deep into the beams of our minds.'

Ben, the youngest, tells the story. Since he is looking at it from hindsight, he can fill in details that would otherwise not have been available to him. Each chapter starts out with a simple sentence that tells us who or what the chapter will be about. It is a wonderful way to advance the story. The writing is very controlled and targeted. Each sentence advances this particular tragedy, but in the telling it somehow takes on an allegorical quality.

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