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Radiance of Tomorrow: A Novel Hardcover – January 7, 2014

4.1 out of 5 stars 99 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

An Amazon Best Book of the Month, January 2014: Ishmael Beah's 2007 memoir A Long Way Gone described Beah's own experiences as a child soldier in Sierra Leone. In Radiance of Tomorrow, his first novel, he examines what happens when the survivors of war try to return home. At first the refugees arrive like a trickle to their hometown, straggling into a place populated only by bones. Former enemies learn to live together, a school is established, and they begin to rebuild their village and their lives. But the world has changed since they were last there--the clash between tradition and the encroaching world is like a new war, particularly when a mining company moves into town. This novel hits several superlative notes: in the details that Beah chooses to share, in the characters he uses to tell the story, and in the universality of his tale. It is a memorable and emotionally resonant first novel, one that may mark the start of a major new novelist. --Chris Schluep

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In his best-selling A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier (2007), Beah wrote of his traumatic experience as victim and perpetrator in Sierra Leone’s civil war. Now he works with Human Rights Watch and UNICEF in New York, and in this searing first novel, he tells of a young immigrant returning with his family to his native village seven years after the recent civil war. He finds both hope and horror, the latter driven by the overwhelming internal corruption, the former by the resilience of the people he encounters. He sees skulls and chopped hands, the remains of massacre. But there is the wonder of clean drinking water. A foreign company’s diamond mining, supported by the government, is leaving the village people displaced, houses shattered, the air thick with pollution, ancient burial grounds destroyed. A parent must see her child go to bed hungry, night after night. How much will people do for jobs to feed their families? The power of the story is in the close-up, heartbreaking detail of the struggle for survival, the cruelty, and also the kindness. --Hazel Rochman
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Sarah Crichton Books; First Edition edition (January 7, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374246025
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374246020
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (99 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #513,551 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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Any one who has read Ishmael Beah's heartbreaking memoir A Long Way Gonecan attest to the fact that he is a compelling author. Having read his memoir, I had a great curiosity about his recently published novel about Sierra Leone. I wondered what kind of novelist he would be and now that I know I hope he continues writing both fiction and nonfiction as he has a gift.

In the Author's Note he explains the great tradition of storytelling in his native country and that his mother tongue Mende has a poetic way of speaking both of which he hopes to use in Radiance of Tomorrow:

Mende, is very expressive, very figurative, and when I write, I always struggle to find the English equivalent of things that I really want to say in Mende. For example, in Mende, you wouldn't say "night came suddenly"; you would say "the sky rolled over and changed its sides."

Beah is successful in his use of both the story telling techniques and his use of language it does in fact lull the reader, letting one forget the horrors of war and look for the radiance of tomorrow. This is a story of a people returning to their village and rebuilding, attempting to leave behind the sorrows and reclaim their home. The first to return to the village of Imepri are the elders, Mama Kadie and Pa Moiwa. The book begins:

"She was the first to arrive where it seemed the wind no longer exhaled. Several miles from town, the trees had entangled one another. Their branches grew toward the ground, burying the leaves in the soil to blind their eyes so the sun would not promise them tomorrow with its rays. It was only the path that was reluctant to cloak its surface completely with grasses, as though it anticipated it would soon end its starvation for the warmth of bare feet that gave it life.
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Format: Hardcover
"Radiance of Tomorrow" by Ishmael Beah is new well-made novel from African writer who tells a story about hope and courage, about consequences of the war-ravaged Sierra Leone, observed through the fate of two best friends who return to their hometown.

After the civil war in Sierra Leone was over, Benjamin and Bockarie together with other people are coming back to Imperi, their birth place in ruins. Both are teachers so their desire by resuming the old post is to help rebuild their country and their community with knowledge and education.
But even though the war have ended, the country is in ruins, and the problems are all around them - lack of food, vengeance, murders, rape and theft are part of everyday painful life that surrounds them. Additionally, under the guise of helping troubled African country and its people, a foreign company jeopardizes their survival polluting water which will again cause unrest amnog people.

So the two friends besides thinking about the safety of their lives, and due to will to help people around them and hold fragile peace would need to put themselves in the position to fix what is today so the things that will come could be better, bringing hope for a better tomorrow...

Ishmael Beah wrote a strong book that goes beyond terms such as courage and hope; he brought a compelling and moving story about the consequences of the brutal civil war in Sierra Leone, and his story is even more distressing because it's told by the local people that understand why and what happened, something that is most of the time hard to understand for people that are not from these troubled world parts.
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Format: Hardcover
"They laughed, both knowing that part of the old ways remained, though they were fragile. At the end of their laughter, words were exchanged, briefly, leaving many things unsaid for another day that continued to be another and yet another…"

Mama Kadie cautiously enters the central path of her village, not sure what to expect, pondering on what has remained and who is still there or has come back like she does now. After the traumas, losses and devastation of the war she experiences profound emotions as she walks barefoot on the local soil, smells the scents of the land and watches and listens for every sound in the bushes. What will life have in store for her? The opening pages of Ishmael Beah's debut novel, "Radiance of Tomorrow", are achingly beautiful; his voice gentle and affecting, his deep emotional connection palpable with what he describes so colourfully. Having experienced international acclaim with his memoir, "A Long Way Gone", which recounts the story of a child soldier in Sierra Leone, with his new book he returns to his homeland, sharing with his readers the demanding and difficult path that the local people have to follow in their recovery from the brutal war and its many losses in life and livelihood. There is hope – radiance – for a better future but there are also many sacrifices to make: forgiving is not forgetting; rebuilding on ruins, literally, on the bones of loved ones is probably one of the most haunting challenges. Transposing the facts and realities of the aftermath of the Sierra Leonean war into a fictional framework carries its own challenges. At the same time, it gives the author a greater freedom of expression for exploring the tragedies and recoveries.
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