The Fishermen Book Review

The Fishermen: Book Review by Dinh

5 out of 5 stars

The Fishermen Book Review





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… 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 Fishermen Review


Story Line

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?

Nigerian Culture

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!

Get a copy of The Fishermen here or listen to it for free with an Audible trial.

Want to browse for more books? Check out our reviews!

16 thoughts on “The Fishermen Book Review

  1. This does sound interesting!
    When you say tragic, does someone die?

    I think I will pick this one up. I like to read something that’s has some meat to it. 🙂

    1. Hi Peter,
      thanks for stopping by and commenting.

      The Fishermen is a very interesting book.

      The plot is fantastic and I loved the theme of family and brotherly bonds. The story is tragic and that is all I will say for now. You’ll find out soon enough 🙂

      You are right that this novel is meaty. The book is easy to read but the themes are heavy.

      Let me know if you enjoy The Fishermen when you are done. 🙂

  2. Very interesting, i have to say I am unfamiliar with Nigerian culture, perhaps this would be a good way to get introduced?

    1. Hi Ryan,
      thanks for your comments.

      Any way to get introduced into other cultures is fine. Whatever takes your interests. I like museums and books.

      I like learning about different cultures via stories. It makes it interesting and I like to use my imagination.

      The Fishermen’s setting and the use of Igbo and Yuroba dialects makes the story so much more interesting and I got a lot out of it. It made me curious and as a result I looked up some facts about Nigeria. 🙂

      Thanks for popping in!

  3. Dinh, I love books and I am especially drawn to anything about family ties. I also love to learn about other cultures. I have bookmarked to purchase for my library. I nice presentation, and I especially liked the video. All the best in your new place.

    1. Hi Josephine,
      thanks for sharing your thoughts.

      I am glad that you have bookmarked this for your library. This is a brilliant book. He should have won the Man Booker prize 🙂

      As a former sociology student, I too love reading about different cultures. It’s great to learn something new and understand other peoples cultures.

      I am getting a bit better at the video book review. Since it’s not scripted I do feel I can improve on expressing myself. I rather not edit but just say what I think.

      Thanks for stopping by at Arlene’s Book Club!

  4. Mate, this is a class review on the Fishermen. I loved the way that you touched on the whole story line yet did not give it all away. This peaked my interest and made me want to read the complete book! Great work indeed.

    1. Hi Simon,
      thanks for your nice remarks.

      I have tried to not say outright what will happen as it will spoil it for the reader. If you read between the lines you probably will guess what happens (or if you read the comments 🙂 )

      I really enjoyed The Fishermen and hope that you like it too. It may not be everyone’s cup of tea. This is quality writing with a great story told in a way that you can just imagine every little bit.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  5. Wow, this book sounds fantastic. I mean, it’s been a while I have seen some books with poetic and refreshing way of writings with some metaphors . And I still can learn something new about this world, as it mentions about events in Nigeria. I know it’s a sad story, but I gues it’s worth reading. Thanks

    1. Hi Jassi!
      Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

      I absolutely loved this book.
      Though it is sad as its focus is on the brotherly bond that is broken, there is hope in it.

      I found it refreshing to read something different that had some substance for a change. Lately, it feels like I have been reading ‘fluff’ books- those to me are entertaining but do not leave memory of them as the are light and airy and they disappear.

      Do let me know what you think when you get a chance to read it.

  6. Wow! Five stars, Dinh! I am very intrigued. The Fishermen has a prophetic and very biblical feel to me just from reading your review. I think I would also like the book’s main concepts centered on family bond.

    1. Hi Lonna!
      thanks for your comments.
      The book does feel a bit biblical only in the sense it’s like Cain and Abel’s fratricide. Cain killed his brother Abel so there’s some similarity there to the book. I felt that this was more of a Nigerian story. The differences in Nigerian cultures and particularly with all the ethnic clans make this one of its kind.

      The Fishermen was about brotherly bond and the story line was a great way to show what would have when that bond was severed. You feel sad that it’s happening and want to have hope for the brother.

      Thanks for stopping by!

        1. Hi Lonna!
          Yes, The Fishermen is heartfelt and I felt very satisfied after reading the book. The novel moved me- some times it made me sad, other times it made me happy, and at times distraught. I was hopefully throughout the book and liked that it made me feel something throughout the book.

  7. I love books that explore family bonds and even more so that tests that bond. Prophecy is such a powerful tool around the world especially in Africa and middle east.

    What kind of genre is this book? I particularly like mystery and murder.

    1. Hi Steven!
      thanks for sharing your thoughts.

      I loved that this book explored the intricate relationship and bond between family and the bonds between the brothers.
      Prophecy has a way of either making something good happen or something bad happen. Out of this tragic story is hope though and how a family can try to come back from the devastation that it caused.

      This book is fiction. The story takes place in the 1990s against a backdrop of the political events of Nigeria. Whilst there are certain things that are real in the book such as the politician M.K.O Abiola, the characters are fictional.

      Thanks for stopping by!

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