the fishermen

The Fishermen by Chigozie Obioma

The Fishermen by Chigozie ObiomaThe Fishermen by Chigozie Obioma
Published by Little, Brown on April 14th 2015
Source: Publisher
Pages: 304
Buy from IndieBound


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.


  • I’m not sure I would choose this one for myself, Shannon, but your review definitely has me feeling somewhat excited about it; I love the fact that the story builds and became, for you, difficult to pull away from throughout the second half. I think those are my faves! Thanks for sharing this one! I’m really looking forward to Dept. of Speculation tomorrow during the Readathon; so ready to discuss another one at The Socratic Salon!

    • Oh, I can’t wait to hear what you think! It seems to be one people really love or hate (it’s an experimental format), but it’s such a quick read that it’s totally worth picking up.

  • Woohooo, you liked it! :D I got to meet the author a while back and he was cool (my department is thinking about hiring him) and I was like “okay, I want to read your book” but I haven’t seen any reviews yet, SO. Huzzah!

    • Most of the reviews I saw were REALLY good, so I think I had extremely high expectations going in and that may have thrown me off a bit in the beginning. I think he’s a great writer with a fantastic career ahead of him, though, so that’s super exciting about your school.

  • Like Tara, this is definitely one I wouldn’t normally pick up. Something about the whole prophecy thing. But, you have me intrigued and you’ve gotten me to pick up some books in the past that I normally wouldn’t, but ended up loving (i.e. The Wife).

  • Okay! I will try it! I added this to my watch list when I saw it in the publishers’ catalog, and I was thinking that it had the potential to be amazing, but also the potential to be very very meh. Good to hear that it leans in the good direction!

  • Stavy K

    I was hoping you’d like it! Yay!!

  • I was hesitant about this one because of the Eleanor Catton endorsement – I did NOT enjoy The Luminaries and it ended up being a DNF for me. But, I trust your judgment, so perhaps I’ll overlook that part :)

  • Pingback: Ten Novels With Characters Based on Real PeopleRiver City Reading()

  • I’m glad this gets good by the end! I’ve only heard excellent things, and I’ve been wanting to read this really badly