Published by Little, Brown on April 14th 2015
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Set in 1990’s Nigeria, The Fishermen starts as the strict father of four young boys takes a job in a distant city, which makes it possible for the brothers to break a family rule and pick up fishing. While at the river, the brothers encounter a well-known madman who delivers a prophecy that will forever impact both the boys, their family and the town they live in.
Nine year old Benjamin, the youngest of the four brothers, narrates the novel, which builds its backstory through his sporadic memories. This technique left me feeling slightly disconnected and unsure of the story’s progression through much of the first half, as it regularly seemed to be taking steps back just as it was gaining momentum. But by the midpoint, as the prophecy is revealed and comes to fruition, the pace makes a positive forward shift.
In its powerful second half, The Fishermen is nearly impossible to put down. Fate and family swirl together in a churning narrative and land in the novel’s heartbreaking final pages. Though it takes time to build to its conclusion, The Fishermen is well worth the read and an exciting debut from Chigozie Obioma.