- Hardcover: 304 pages
- Publisher: Little, Brown and Company; First edition (April 14, 2015)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0316338370
- ISBN-13: 978-0316338370
- Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1 x 9.6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 173 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #555,291 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Fishermen: A Novel Hardcover – April 14, 2015
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Winner of the 2016 Los Angeles Times Book Prize (The Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction)
Winner of the 2016 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work (Debut Author)
Winner of the 2015 FT/Oppenheimer Emerging Voices Award for Fiction
Finalist for the 2015 Man Booker Prize
Finalist for the 2015 Guardian First Book Award
Finalist for the 2015 Center for Fiction First Novel Prize
Longlisted for the 2016 International Dylan Thomas Prize
Longlisted for the 2015 Etisalat Prize for Literature
Named a Best Book of the Year on more than a dozen lists, including the New York Times Book Review, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, and NPR
"Entrancing.... Its rising tension and poetic grace make this one of the finest novels to come from Africa in years."--Wall Street Journal "Best Books of 2015"
"In its exploration of the murderous and the mysterious, the mind's terrors and a vibrant Africa, this debut novel is heir to Chinua Achebe."--New York Times Book Review, Editors' Choice
"Engrossing.... [Obioma's] language is rich and hypnotic, and nearly every page is filled with an unexpected and perfectly rendered description.... This is a dark and beautiful book by a writer with seemingly endless promise."--Michael Schaub, NPR
"The most frustrating thing about THE FISHERMEN is that the author has no other books for the reader to devour once the final page is reached."--Trine Tsouderos, Chicago Tribune
"[A] darkly mythic first novel [that] feels as if it might predate modernity itself.... It's hard to know where Obioma...can go with his literary career after this pitiless, unstinting start.... Perhaps he will become a kind of African Cormac McCarthy, committed to a stark vision of life in which our pretensions to civilization are forever held up and exposed as skin deep: that what really runs us is deeper down, in the blood."--Kevin Nance, USA Today (3/4 stars)
"A striking, controlled and masterfully taut debut.... The tale has a timeless quality that renders it almost allegorical and it is the more powerful for it."--Financial Times
"Part Bildungsroman, part Greek tragedy, THE FISHERMEN may be the most interesting debut novel to emerge from Nigeria this year.... In a first novel full of deceptive simplicity, lyrical language and playful Igbo mythology and humour, [Obioma] uses the madman's apocalyptic vision for the family as a way of conjuring up Nigeria's senseless body politic. Even a child can tell that this is no way to run a country. And yet for Benjamin, a narrator caught up in tragedy, there is also redemption. This is an impressive and beautifully imagined work."--The Economist
"Frank and lyrical."--New Yorker
"Arresting.... Obioma brings terrific authorial dexterity to the family's story and its small place in Nigeria, and evokes a worldview which brings with it a terrible tragedy. This is the best novel I have read so far this year, and that, I can assure you, is saying plenty."--Kathrine A. Powers, Christian Science Monitor
"Inspired by his native Nigeria and, by extension, the contradictions and marvels of Africa, Obioma is an articulate and sometimes lyrical storyteller.... A dynamic new voice from Africa--and one that deserves a listen."--Ofeibea Quist-Arcton, NPR's Best Books of 2015
"This year's most promising African newcomer may well prove to be Chigozie Obioma.... In his exploration of the mysterious and the murderous, of the terrors that can take hold of the human mind, of the colors of life in Africa, with its vibrant fabrics and its trees laden with fruit, and most of all in his ability to create dramatic tension in this most human of African stories, Chigozie Obioma truly is the heir to Chinua Achebe."--Fiametta Rocco, New York Times, "100 Notable Books of 2015"
"Awesome in the true sense of the word: crackling with life, freighted with death, vertiginous both in its style and in the elemental power of its story. Few novels deserve to be called 'mythic,' but Chigozie Obioma's THE FISHERMEN is certainly one of them. A truly magnificent debut."--Eleanor Catton, author of The Luminaries (Man Booker Prize)
"This strange, imaginative debut probes the nature of belief and the power of family bonds."--Christine Emba, New Criterion
"This promising debut spins a simple, almost mythological conceit into a heartbreaking elegy to Nigeria's lost promise."--Helon Habila, Guardian
"Obioma writes with gorgeous restraint reminiscent of the intricate prose in a Tolstoy novella. Every sentence delivers a precise and heartfelt blow. Hardly anyone writing today is delivering this level of intricacy, lyricism and control. Add to that, the urgency and importance of his message. It just doesn't get better than this. Get used to the name: Obioma is here to stay."--Alexandra Fuller, author of Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness
"An evocative fable-like tale."--The Week
"A strikingly accomplished debut, hailing Chigozie Obioma as a bold new voice in Nigerian fiction."--Lucy Scholes, Independent
"Should I call Obioma the next Bulawayo? Adichie or Achebe? He could be called all of these things, but THE FISHERMEN is also none of these things. It is a novel that is all its own.... [That] remind[s] me of why I love reading: to be shown what it might be like inside another culture; to slip between someone else's ears; to feel a life that I won't get to live."--Claire Cameron, The Millions
"Obioma's remarkable fiction is at once urgently, vividly immediate, yet simultaneously charged with the elemental power of myth."--Peter Ho Davies, author of The Welsh Girl
"Grips readers from the very first chapter."--Caroline Hallemann, Travel & Leisure
"THE FISHERMEN establishes Obioma as a writer to be taken seriously.... Ingenious, subtle, ambitious and intriguing."--Stuart Kelly, Times Literary Supplement
"Unforgettable.... There is something almost mystical about Obioma's writing as well as his story, and it makes this book nearly impossible to put down."--Vol. 1 Brooklyn
"Folklore-infused."--Megan O'Grady, Vogue
"[A] deeply imaginative, stirring debut novel.... For those interested in a gripping, at times nail-biting, read, give this new author a try."--Coastal Living
"Seamlessly interweaving the everyday and the elemental, Obioma's strange, imaginative debut probes the nature of belief and the power of family bonds.... Obioma excels at juxtaposing sharp observation, rich images of the natural world, and motifs from biblical and tribal lore; his novel succeeds as a convincing modern narrative and as a majestic reimagining of timeless folklore."--Publishers Weekly, (Starred Review)
"Elegantly near-mythic.... Made vivid by the well-rendered specifics, Obioma's quietly unfolding story of family tragedy gathers strength as its cycle of violence spins faster and faster."--Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal
"The talented Obioma exhibits a richly nuanced understanding of culture and character.... A powerful, haunting tale of grief, healing, and sibling loyalty."--Kirkus Reviews
"[A] striking debut."--BookPage
"Chigozie Obioma's gift and the authenticity of his voice are immediately apparent. What makes the narrative of THE FISHERMEN so striking and seductive is that it broaches magic realism yet stays entirely, and convincingly, in the realm of real life. Magic believed in is stark reality. One finds oneself in full suspension of disbelief that old legends and myths persist in perpetual reincarnation in present-day lives so that every character, scenes, and imagery jump off the page, firmly to lodge in the reader's mind."--Irini Spanidou, author of Before
"I find the author Chigozie Obioma formidably articulate and with great talent. I believe that he has it in him to become one of the best writers of the upcoming crop of young African authors."--Nuruddin Farah, author of Maps and Hiding in Plain Sight
About the Author
CHIGOZIE OBIOMA was born in 1986 in Akure, Nigeria. His short stories have appeared in the Virginia Quarterly Review and New Madrid. He was a Fall 2012 OMI Fellow at Ledig House, New York. He has lived in Nigeria, Cyprus and Turkey, and currently resides in the United States, where he has completed an MFA in Creative Writing at the University of Michigan. The Fishermen is his first novel.
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The truth is, stories affect us. We become invested in the stories we're told and our investment comes with consequences. The Fisherman brings this truth to light through a vibrant, compelling narrative. At times, I felt sorry for the brothers in this story or I was angry at them. At other times, I was happy for them or hopeful. What's important to me is that, from beginning to end, I always felt something. The Fishermen explored several profound philosophical themes, but the author didn't neglect the characters or sacrifice the basic narrative while looking more deeply into the human condition.
I try to read literary fiction more often than popular fiction because I'm human, so I'm always looking for intellectual growth. Unfortunately, a lot of contemporary literary fiction is more concerned with deploying literary themes than with crafting a strong and compelling narrative. The Fishermen is a wonderful work that doesn't sacrifice entertainment while giving the reader enlightenment. Honestly, I'm awed by Obioma's ability to entertain me and keep me enthralled in the story, while simultaneously giving me philosophical food for thought. The novel is also beautifully written, with language that is poetic without being pretentious. I bought this book for myself on Amazon, but it feels like a gift.
In "The Fishermen", the young person is a boy named Ben. You get to know Ben and his family through his words. Mr. Obioma doesn't waste time pulling you into the story and introducing you to Ben, his brothers, and various other characters. This was an extremely good read (it's also a short read as it's just under 300 pages); and it's set at a good pace as you walk side by side with Ben and his brothers. I love the bond they had. This was brothers being brothers: Playing together, arguing and having fistfights, and going fishing against their parents' consent. Mr. Obioma wraps you into that bond and that love, and into their relationship with and respect for their parents. You're inside that "wrappa" with them as they witness political changes, sit in their room talking about things; or, as they secretly go fishing and hide their catch in tin cans. I also like Mr. Obioma's use of various metaphors as he opens each chapter, and relates them to the characters he wants you to understand. But as you spend time with this family and get comfy inside the "wrappa" of their lives, you'll also feel their pain: You'll feel their conflicts, their worries, their fears, their decisions, their anger, their grief; and also their hopes, and healing they experience. And Mr. Obioma also gives a nod to Chinua Achebe, as the brothers attempt to make sense of their changing world and come to their decisions. And like Mr. Achebe's famous books, if I was a teacher, I'd make this book "The Fishermen" a must read for my students. And frankly, it is a must read for us all!