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An Orchestra of Minorities Hardcover – Illustrated, January 8, 2019
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Elsewhere by Dean Koontz
Learn more about this epic new thriller.
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Named a 'Most Anticipated Book of 2019' by Entertainment Weekly, Vanity Fair, Hello Giggles, PureWow, Literary Hub, and Fast Company
"Obioma writes with an exigent precision that makes AN ORCHESTRA OF MINORITIES feel at once timely and speculative. The novel aches with Chinonso. His triumphs are rare and hard-won. Obioma compels the reader to root for him, to see the poor chicken farmer's story as an epic."―The Atlantic
"It is more than a superb and tragic novel; it's a historical treasure."
"It's a story as old as the epic."―New York Times Book Review "Gorgeously written, with a twist of magical realism and a heavy dose of sad reality, this is your big novel of the winter."―Washington Post "Transcendent
. . . Chigozie Obioma's second novel is a rare treasure: a book that deepens the mystery of the human experience."―Seattle Times
"Obioma's novel remains interesting and important"―Minneapolis Star Tribune
"The chances that Chigozie Obioma's second novel would match, let alone surpass, "The Fishermen," were slim. Happily, his follow-up, AN ORCHESTRA OF MINORITIES, is a triumph. . . . In an era of copycats, "An Orchestra of Minorities" is an unusual and brilliantly original book."―The Economist
"His is a bracing and searing work that compresses an ordinary life into an epic journey."―Houston Chronicle
"A tale of mythic nature and epic scale at times recalling Homer's Odyssey-a sweeping story about destiny and the power of choice."―Vanity Fair "Destined to become a classic." ―Hello Giggles
"A multicultural fable that her¬alds a new master of magical realism. . . . It's a special writer who can take the familiar tropes found within AN ORCHESTRA OF MINORITIES and infuse them with new life, transforming them into something exciting and unexpected. Happily, Obioma is exactly such an author."―Bookpage, starred review
A deeply original book that will have readers laughing at, angry with, and feeling compassion for a determined hero who endeavors to create his own destiny.―Kirkus, starred review
"Obioma overwhelms readers with a visceral sense of Chinonso's humanity, his love, his rage, and his despair as he struggles between fate and self-determination." ―Library Journal, starred review
"Obioma alchemizes his contemporary love story into a mythic quest enhanced by Igbo cosmology. . . . Magnificently multilayered, Obioma's sophomore title proves to be an Odyssean achievement."―Booklist, starred reviews
"Unforgettable second novel . . . Obioma's novel is electrifying, a meticulously crafted character drama told with emotional intensity. His invention, combining Igbo folklore and Greek tragedy in the context of modern Nigeria, makes for a rich, enchanting experience."
―Publishers Weekly, starred review
"This is a powerful, multifarious novel that underlines Obioma's status as one of the most exciting voices in modern African literature."―Financial Times
"An ambitious and immersive tale about love and sacrifice, told by an ancient spirit. A bold new novel from an exciting young writer."―Brit Bennett, New York Times bestselling author of The Mothers
"Chigozie Obioma is a gifted and original storyteller. His masterful new novel An Orchestra of Minorities is remarkable for its exploration of universal concepts to do with destiny, free will and luck."―Jennifer Clement, author of Gun Love and President of PEN International
"Chigozie Obioma is an audacious and ambitious writer, and quite adept at binding the reader to the irresistible spells he casts. An Orchestra of Minorities is a magisterial accomplishment by any measure, and particularly impressive for the way Obioma orchestrates a tableau in which humans and spirits must interact in a complex, emotionally rich-veined story. Few writers can match Obioma's astonishing range, his deft facility for weaving a mesmeric and triumphant fictive canvas in which-reminiscent of the ancient masters-a cohort of gods presides over and negotiates the fates of humans."―Okey Ndibe, author of Foreign Gods, Inc.
"Chigozie Obioma pens a deeply empathetic, complex, and gut-wrenchingly human narrative that captures the heart and soul. An Orchestra of Minorities stays with you. With remarkable style and compelling language, he explores what it means to experience blinding love and devastating loss. A truly gifted writer, Obioma has proven yet again, that he's a literary treasure."―Nicole Dennis-Benn, award-winning author of Here Comes the Sun
- Item Weight : 1.5 pounds
- Hardcover : 464 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0316412392
- ISBN-13 : 978-0316412391
- Product Dimensions : 6.45 x 1.65 x 9.55 inches
- Publisher : Little, Brown and Company; Illustrated Edition (January 8, 2019)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #473,878 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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Is the book "epic?" Not by a long shot is Nonso an epic hero. Any critical comparison of Nonso to Odysseus is irrelevant. This is no wily adventurer weaving his way back to faithful wife, son and kingdom. This is not a man who lives by his wits, who commands respect and admiration. So, is he a tragic hero? Sort of. If we go with the idea of an internal flaw---or flaws---that bring the hero to his own demise. Nonso is a bad thinker. That's his fatal flaw. Additionally, who would crucify a hawk against a barn door? Something is fatally wrong with Nonso. In that old familiar area of dramatic catharsis, we do feel some pity and fear for the "hero", but we are glad, as we exit the theater, that we are not him. The problem is---we are not sure what lesson we are to take from Nonso's "fall." What WAS the author's intention??
This is a horrifying and frustrating novel---not so much for what is done to Nonso, but for what he does to himself. He seems a luckless and brainless character. Everything he touches turns to crap. He seems to be in a cage of his own making. Kind of a self-ruined man.
“Okaaome, I have heard from fathers long dead at Alanciichie who wonder why their children have abandoned their ways. I have watched them lament over the current state of things. I have heard ndiichie-nne, the great mothers, bemoan the fact that their daughters no longer carry their bodies in the ways their mothers did…What they seem not to understand is that the White Man charmed their children with the products of his wizardry…
Imagine, Egbunu, how the children of the fathers must have felt when they encountered this proverb of the wise fathers: No matter how much a man leaps, he cannot fly…But the children see something like the plane and they are shocked at how this wisdom has been upended by the White Man’s sorcery.”
The simultaneous experiences of Chinonso’s chi are as captivating as Chinonso’s experiences. This book is an immersion experience. It’s best read in big blocks of time, to fully imagine the rich world of spirits and the ancient belief system Obiama portrays.
Chinonso’s struggles are universal. He’s a lonely 24-year-old poultry farmer when a seemingly random act changes the course of his life. He spots Ndali Obialor on a bridge, ready to fling herself off of it. He talks her out of committing suicide by throwing two of his chickens into the water below the bridge.
They go about their lives until Ndali seeks Chinonso out because as her chi describes it to Chinonso’s chi, “My host has erected a figurine in the shrine of her heart.” They become lovers. However, Ndali is from a higher socio-economic stratum than Chinonso and her parents do not approve of Chinonso. From there, Chinonso makes decisions and takes actions all to prove his love to Ndali and win the approval of her parents.
Chinonso’s journey, while taking place in Nigeria and Cyprus, is not unusual for black men in this country. We are forced to confront the phenomenon of mass incarceration of black men in the US. We see the ways incarceration takes a good man with pure intentions and changes him at the level of his very soul. Sometimes his chi intervenes and sometimes his chi must remain still.
In the end, we are left spellbound by the power of love to change a person for better and for worse.
Narrated by Chinonso’s chi (a kind of guardian spirit) to Chukwu (a supreme deity) in a plea for mercy for its host, An Orchestra of Minorities is unique story, and a dark examination of the fragility of the human spirit.
Top reviews from other countries
Hurrr-rrr-chh! (A screech of brakes, or a needle skidding on vinyl).
Alas, I just didn’t take to it.
The omniscient narrator (a guardian spirit) waffled on in a simplistic writing style that had me rolling my eyes and wishing we could bring a rescue team of literary greats back from the dead. The first few chapters were all exposition and there was nothing here that resembled an actual story. Our ethereal narrator kept repeating, "I had seen it many times." To which I retorted, "Yes, you’ve said it many times too, you parrot!"
And ... relax.
So, while the cosmic blather continued with no sign of anything resembling dialogue or human interaction on the horizon, I shimmied into a lifebuoy and prepared to jump ship.
Happily, though, a story did begin to emerge. And a very promising one at that. A tale of Nonso Olisa, an ill-starred Nigerian poultry farmer who falls in love with a woman who, as a result of being jilted, was intent on throwing herself off a bridge.
"Ah-ha! That’s more like it!" I cheered, casting off my lifebuoy and getting myself nice and comfy.
Auspiciously, the author began to move through his literary gears, fashioning a contemporary Greek tragedy that suggested it might finally live up to its star billing (and what eventually happens to our unworldly chicken farmer when he relocates to Cyprus is a complete volte-face from the book’s uneventful opening chapters). The scene was set and I was ready to give it a second chance.
But, d’oh! Again with the exposition! Chigozie Obiama snatches defeat from the jaws of victory by reintroducing yet more explanatory notes (groan) that are surely surplus to requirements. There’s a potentially-moving human story here that needs to be told! (A thorough edit and word cull would have done this novel a power of good).
The story continued to advance like a slug through treacle and, despite his terrible woes, I lost all sympathy for the hapless main character (he is largely the architect of his own downfall). I rooted for Ndali (the lady from the bridge) much more. The pacing throughout remained leaden and I really struggled to get to the finishing line.
An Orchestra of Minorities 🖤
The only reason I could justify reading a book of this size during term time is a) it’s a twist on Greek classic The Odyssey and b) it kept me sane during the last month of term which has been quite draining.
Having read this and a few others in the same genre I legit want to study Igbo culture and language full time! I am convinced that my chi previously inhabited a host from the time of The Great Fathers and guides me to the people and books that have educated me this last year.
Love does things to people (good and bad) and this book reveals the human complexity and the extent to which mental health issues/pain can blur the lines between evil and rightful revenge.
I also enjoyed how the story was told from the perspective of his chi. Made me start thinking if I had my own personal chi who intervened on my behalf.
I really love this book and don’t think I’ll be getting over it anytime soon.