Book review: The Fishermen

The Fishermen
Chigozie Obioma
One, £14.99; ebook, £4.19

Chigozie Obioma’s novel follows the disintegrating fortunes of a middle-class family, the Agwus, in 1990s Nigeria.

Trouble starts when the bookish, ambitious Mr Agwu is posted away from Akura, the town where he and his wife have been raising their children, to take up a banking position in the riskier north.

In his absence, the older boys run wild on the forbidden edge of a local river — and an ancient, less rational Africa asserts itself.

One by one, the children fall victim to a malign prophecy, uttered by a terrifying madman who has appeared in their Christian lives like an emissary of the devil — or maybe of the previous era’s animistic religion, which has never quite gone away.

Obioma does a terrific job of portraying his birth country as a place of warmth, chaos, love, stink and ever-present brutality — though, at times, you’ll need a strong stomach to read it.


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