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Sozaboy 1st Edition

8 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0582236998
ISBN-10: 0582236991
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Editorial Reviews


'This is both a novel of self-discovery and an indictment of a corrupt and muddled war -- a kind of sombre picaresque lifted by the vivacity of its language' Helen Birch, City Limits William Boyd, who has written the introduction to Sozaboy, has described the author as 'an extraordinary man and an extraordinary writer.'

About the Author

Ken Saro-Wiwa, nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1996, was a novelist, publisher, journalist and human rights activist. He was a committed and tireless campaigner on human rights and environmental issues. In November 1995 he was executed by the Nigerian authorities.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 188 pages
  • Publisher: Pearson; 1 edition (April 28, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0582236991
  • ISBN-13: 978-0582236998
  • Product Dimensions: 4.9 x 0.6 x 7.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #283,428 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Olumide Ogunremi on January 28, 2000
Format: Paperback
Ken Saro Wiwa was one of the rising stars of Nigerian Literature coming after the legendary triumvirate of Achebe,Soyinka and John Pepper Clarke-Bekederemo till his voice was cut down inhis prime.The setting of the novel is an African Country which he does not mention though it is obviously Nigeria.It tells a harrowing tale of a soldier who joins the war not understanding what he is fighting for.The narrator is a naive apprentice driver who ends up in prisoner of war camps,refugee camps and witnesses the wanton destruction finally becoming disillusioned he walks away from it all only to discover the loss of all he holds dear.The language in which it is written is actually a form of speaking common in NIGERIA it is a beautiful mix of corrupted English words transposed with direct translations from African languages.There is a glossary that will be usefull to those unfamiliar with this.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Luc REYNAERT on January 13, 2009
Format: Paperback
Ken Saro-Wiwa's `Sozaboy' is one of the most poignant anti-war novels ever written.

It is the story of a young apprentice driver for whom all uniformed human beings are heroes ... until he becomes one himself. Fighting on both sides of the front line and not knowing exactly for whom, it becomes clear to him that `little soldiers' are only `dead bodies' in the hands of corrupt powermongerers (generals, politicians, businessmen).
His whole world breaks down: why are people continuing to make children in this hellish world?

This brutal and shocking masterpiece is a must read for all those interested in world literature. Its phrasing in `rotten English' gives it a particularly tragic accent.

Ken Saro-Wiwa's death is also an utmost tragical one. He was condemned for `high treason' and hanged, because he defended his ogoni people against the ravages of their territory by an international oil company. A crime against humanity.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Sara Bee 1321 on March 5, 2010
Format: Paperback
I read Sozaboy about once a year. I love it. I don't know how many copies I've given away, a dozen at least. I never tire of it.

A key feature of this book is the language. The author calls it "rotten English". Rotten English is a mix of Pidgeon English, corrupted English and good English. The voice is musical and magical. I can hear my West African friends in my ear as I read.

The language is evocative. You are there. You see this man-child move from place to place, from side to side, never really understanding the world around him. What soldier really grasps the meaning and purpose of war? What soldier can really find his or her own place in the chaos? Right and wrong get lost in the meat grinder.

The last paragraph never fails to make me weep.

"And I was thinking how I was prouding before to go to soza and call myself Sozaboy. But now if anybody say anything about war or even fight, I will just run and run and run and run and run. Believe me yours sincerely."

It stands up with the very best anti war fiction.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on April 15, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Ever since I took Charles Larson's class, The African Writer, I have been completely intrigued by Ken Saro-Wiwa. I presented multiple projects depicting the horrendous execution of this activist/author as the most severe example of the precarious situation in which African writers are forced to live and work. However, only recently did I realize that I never actually read a work by this influential author. For this reason, I sought out Sozaboy: A novel in rotten English. To put it simply, I was blown away by the creative innovation, timelessness, and critical content of the novel. Ken Saro-Wiwa is a man that should be studied for not only the significance of his death, but the accomplishments of his life.

The plot follows a young man named Mene, who is eventually only known as Sozaboy, living in a small, rural village in Nigeria while tensions begin to build and suggest an upcoming war. The seemingly petty events of Mene's life, like his obsession with Agnes, the beautiful Lagos girl, eventually transform to create a heart-wrenching war novel. While growing up in his village of Dukana, Mene becomes an apprentice driver when his mom decides this to be the most lucrative career path for him, since she can no longer pay his school fees. His limited education is reflected in the mixture of pidgin English, corrupted English and "occasional flashes of good, even idiomatic English" that is used to narrate the novel, which Saro-Wiwa dubbed "rotten English" (iii). Although the narration can be, at times, difficult to follow, it is generally easy enough to figure out with the help of context clues and the glossary in the back of the book. Nonetheless, Saro-Wiwa succeeds in narrating an unbelievably eloquent novel, while criticizing the many facets of war.
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