The Fishermen: Book Review by Dinh
Here’s the video book review of The Fishermen that I made. You can read the written review by scrolling down or click play to watch the video. Enjoy!
Set in in Akure, West Nigeria, it is a tale of four brothers (Ikenna, Boja, Obembe, and Benjamin) who begin fishing in the Omi Ala river when their strict father gets a job transfer to Yola, and is not around to keep an eye on them.
One day, the brothers meet Abulu the madman at the river Omi-Ala. Abulu prophetize that Ikenna is going to be killed by a fisherman.
“Ikenna, you will swim in a river of red but shall never rise from it again…..you shall die by the hands of a fisherman.”
And so the story takes a turn as Ikenna interprets the madman’s vision. Ikenna starts believing that one of his brothers will kill him.
This was a surprisingly fantastic read! Thank you Mike Odoemela for bringing this book to my attention.
This is the first book written by Chigozie Obioma although he has written other short stories. The Fishermen was finalist in the Man Booker Prize. There were 295 pages in the hardback version.
You can find inside the book cover, a map of Akure showing where the kids lived and where the fishing spot is.
What did I love about this book?
Chigozie Obioma’s written style is poetic and enchanting, yet refreshing. I liked the way Obioma balances the book with the use of good descriptive writing and metaphors to illustrate his characters feelings.
I love the name of the chapters. Each of the chapters represented what was happening and reflected the characters that it centered on.
For example, in Metamorphosis, focused on Ikenna and how he slowly changed into another person and his gradual withdrawal from his brothers.
The first chapter was called Fisherman, and was about the 4 brothers and how they began fishing.
Chapter 2 was The River, then chapter 3 was The Eagle (the father). Next The Python (Ikenna), followed by The Metamorphosis, and continued with The Madman (Abulu).
The rest of the chapters are:
The Falconer (the mother), The Locusts, The Sparrow (Ikenna), The Fungus (Boja), The Spiders (were beasts of grief), The Searchdog (Obembe), The Leech (hatred is a leech),The leviathan (Abulu),The Tadpole (hope was a tadpole), The Roosters (Obembe and Benjamin), The Moth (Benjamin), The Egrets (David and Nkem).
The book is narrated by Benjamin, who is nine years old.
The tragic story is about the chain of events that spiral out of control from what seemed liked a normal happy beginning. The brothers are from a well educated Nigerian household where the father works for the Central Bank of Nigeria and reads the Guardian newspaper.
It is an interesting look at fate/prophecy. The impetus that changes this family’s dynamic is the meeting of the madman Abulu at the river Omi Ala. The seeds of destruction begins with the prophecy made by Abulu.
This is a darker look at the book’s core and illustrates that perhaps it can happen to any family.
Ikenna’s submission and acceptance to fate; that one of his brothers will kill him, brings up fear and how we deal with it can alter the consequences.
Though the plot itself was a sad one. The book’s main themes and concepts centered on family bond, particularly brotherly bond and how breaking this bond can be destructive and heartbreaking, leaving a trail of devastation in its wake.
Obioma does a great job in contrasting the way things were- the before, how happy and close knit the family was. And the after, when the motion of events lead to destruction of the family bonds. How does one come back from a bond that is severed leaving only loss and heartache?
The story line is based in Nigeria in 1990s and the political events that are mentioned gave me look into the socio-economic landscape of the country.
Although the brother’s meeting with Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola (M.K.O Abiola) was made up, it was interesting to read about the Yoruba Egba politician who ran for presidency in 1993 and was widely seen as the winner having no official results.
I also liked reading words and phases in the book that were in Igbo and Yoruba (the ethnic languages of Nigeria).
My Final Thoughts
I enjoyed reading The Fishermen immensely. This is a wonderfully written book with a simple plot that starts with with a prophecy. It kept me reading page after page as I found myself drawn into the relationship between the brothers and how their family bond unraveled, out of control, when their brotherly bond was severed and what happened to them all.
I highly recommend you to pick it up to read!
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