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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 --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

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 --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Audio CD: 6 pages
  • Publisher: Macmillan Audio; Unabridged edition (January 7, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1427233403
  • ISBN-13: 978-1427233400
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.6 x 6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (91 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,244,369 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Ishmael Beah came to the United States when he was seventeen and graduated from Oberlin College in 2004. He is a member of the Human Rights Watch Children's Rights Division Advisory Committee and has spoken before the United Nations on several occasions. He lives in New York City.

Amazon Author Rankbeta 

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#97 in Books > History
#97 in Books > History

Customer Reviews

Very enjoyable read and satisfying characters.
Richard K. Williams
Full of difficult desperate times yet the human and humane spirit comes shinning through the sorrows. a violent time.
Ishmael Beah has a talent for telling stories and a beautiful way with words.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

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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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By C.R. Hurst TOP 500 REVIEWER on January 12, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
In the author's note to Radiance of Tomorrow Ishmael Beah asks, how do you return home after the destruction of war? How do you once again make it your home? How do you live there with your family and neighbors and continue traditions of the past, as well as strive for a meaningful future? And in the novel that follows, Beah responses to those questions by creating a story about one village in Sierra Leone whose citizens try to rebuild their lives after a long civil war. It is a wonderful story, so simply told, with such sympathetic characters and such rich imagery that it will be certain to move you.

In the village of Imperi we meet the elders who return first, Mama Kadie and Papa Moiwa, who are quickly followed by others, among them: Sila and his children, who have had their hands cut off during the war, the mysterious Colonel with his group of child soldiers, and a teacher, Bockarie and his wife Kula, who with their children have miraculously survived the war with the family intact. We follow the villagers as they rebuild their lives, only to have their efforts compromised by a rutile (or is it really diamond?) mining operation that brings jobs and corruption to their community. Throughout the novel their stories are told with loving detail, unflinching honesty, and gentle humor. And the language! With simplicity of sentence and unassuming word choice, Beah's imagery is nevertheless beautiful. I recall one particularly lovely description of the capital city, Freetown, where Bockarie and his family are forced to move. After the light provided by generators has dimmed, "the stars and moon came out later and won over the darkness.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By booknblueslady on January 18, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
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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