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Speak No Evil Kindle Edition
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|Length: 229 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
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“The classic coming-out narrative describes how the central character makes a leap from one identity to another, into a different, freer life, while the classic immigrant novel depicts what it’s like to straddle two worlds, old and new, with a foothold in each. Speak No Evil is both and neither.... The soul of Speak No Evil is the tortuous, exquisitely rendered relationship between Niru and his father.” (The New Yorker)
“A lovely slender volume that packs in entire worlds with complete mastery. Speak No Evil explains so much about our times and yet is never anything less than a scintillating, page-turning read.” (Gary Shteyngart, author of Little Failure)
“An evocative narrative and stark dialogue keeps Uzodinma Iweala’s Speak No Evil from a single dull moment.... His characters’ rawness and beauty overwhelm page by page, looping their two stories into one heartbreaking narrative, one that embodies and echoes the pains of current, broader inequalities.” (AV Club)
“A timely story of friendship, secrets, and consequences.” (Vogue)
“A wrenching, tightly woven story about many kinds of love and many kinds of violence. Speak No Evil probes deeply but also with compassion the cruelties of a loving home. Iweala’s characters confront you in close-up, as viscerally, bodily alive as any in contemporary fiction.” (Larissa MacFarquhar)
“Iweala unwinds crucial issues of choice and the burden of playing multiple parts; says Niru, ‘It’s too confusing for me to live all these lives when I want only one.’ Throughout a narrative spiraling toward tragedy, Niru’s pain is so palpable it will make you gasp…. Highly recommended.” (Library Journal, starred review)
“In Uzodinma’s staggering sophomore novel (after Beasts of No Nation), the untimely disclosure of a secret shared between two teens from different backgrounds sets off a cascade of heartbreaking consequences…. Speaks volumes about white heterosexual privilege.... Notable both for the raw force of Iweala’s prose and the moving, powerful story.” (Publishers Weekly, starred review)
“A searing take on the notion of home, and the struggle to be at home with oneself.... Speak No Evil deals with less epic subject matter [than Beasts of No Nation], but there’s subtle power in its intimacy and in its depictions of the violence we do to each other and to ourselves.” (Seattle Times)
“Delivers with immediate poignancy Niru’s struggles…. A later shift in narration allows a different and perhaps more complete picture of Niru, which Iweala also handles elegantly. Portraying cross-generational and -cultural misunderstandings with anything but simplicity, Iweala tells an essential American story.” (Booklist, starred review) --This text refers to the paperback edition.
From the Back Cover
On the surface, Niru leads a charmed life. Raised by two attentive parents in Washington, DC, he’s a top student and a track star at his prestigious private high school, bound for Harvard in the fall. But Niru has a painful secret: he is gay—an abominable sin to his conservative Nigerian parents. No one knows except Meredith, his best friend, the daughter of prominent Washington insiders—and the one person who seems not to judge him.
When Niru’s father accidentally discovers an incriminating text on his phone, the fallout is brutal and swift. Coping with troubles of her own, however, Meredith finds that she has little left emotionally to offer him. As the two friends struggle to reconcile their desires against the expectations and institutions that seek to define them, they find themselves speeding toward a future more violent and senseless than they can imagine. Neither will escape unscathed.--This text refers to the paperback edition.
- Publication Date : March 6, 2018
- File Size : 1238 KB
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print Length : 229 pages
- Publisher : Harper; Reprint Edition (March 6, 2018)
- Language: : English
- ASIN : B071YRW88J
- Lending : Not Enabled
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Enhanced Typesetting : Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #483,594 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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Niru is 18 and in his senior year at an unnamed elite high school in Washington, D.C. that is located on the grounds of the Washington National Cathedral. (St. Alban's School, obviously, but it's not named as such.) His best friend is Meredith, who goes to National Cathedral School (again, not named). She loves Niru…actually, she is in love with Niru. Life is good. Both come from incredibly wealthy, successful and powerful families. Niru has been accepted to Harvard early decision, and he is a star on the school's track team. But he is harboring a deep secret, one that is tearing him apart. He confesses it to Meredith: He is gay. When his very strict, very conservative Nigerian parents discover his secret, Niru's world is shattered. His parents, who are deeply appalled and genuinely distressed, do everything they can to "correct" what they perceive as a deep-seated character flaw. And then tragedy strikes and changes everything. Because no matter how brilliant, kind and talented he may be, Niru is still a scary black man in the eyes of so many.
Written by Uzodinma Iweala, this short book's strength is twofold: vivid, true-to-life characters and mesmerizing storytelling. I was completely immersed in the story, almost as if I had crawled inside the book and become a part of it. The result is a treasure that will stay with me for some time.
Bonus: Read the acknowledgements at the end—totally worth your time.
Ultimately an exploration of the tension between silencing or speaking truth in the face of social consequences, the phrase “speak no evil” haunts the reader long after the book is finished. But the most impressive bit of the book is his command of language and voice. The novel as an experiment in hearing different voices despite the absence of expected conventions. Quotation marks and line separations are absent from the dialogue because they are wholly unnecessary, and the book is stronger and more beautiful for their absence.
Strong voices drive the unpunctuated dialogue and the stripped-down dialogue drives the narrative. These voices are so strong, the reader even knows the pitch and rhythm and timbre of their respective silences. And in Iweala’s tortured world, all too real for so many, each character is self-damned by the presence and absence of his/her voice. The profound silences beg the question: could the consequences of speaking truth that another perceives as evil be any worse than what silence has wrought?
Speak No Evil is split into two parts: the first, and longer portion, which is written from the perspective of Niru, and the second chunk of roughly fifty pages from the perspective of Meredith. Niru and Meredith are inseparable seniors at a prestigious Washington, D.C. private high school with nearly identical routines, consisting mostly of track practice and homework, and identical ambitions to go Harvard.
There’s a whole host of reasons that Speak No Evil spoke to me with a greater degree of authenticity and relatability than any other novel I have read recently. The first of which is the fact that what Iweala creates what could very easily function as a young adult novel. The book was published just under a year ago, and as a reader who is currently the same age as the novel’s protagonists, I can attest to the fact that Iweala’s depiction of the American high schooler is beyond accurate and crafted with great care, and attention to detail. He does this by painting a picture with current slang, popular music, and even smart references to widely popular dating apps such as Grindr and Tinder. Though this could eventually contribute the novel feeling dated in the next decade as those culturally significant touchstones begin to fall from popularity, in terms of current-day accuracy, they only intensify the reader’s connection to the characters.
Without revealing too much, it must be stressed that Iweala writes with compassion, love, and nuance. Iweala lends complexity to each and every one of his characters. In essence, what he has created is an intensely political story, that is so timely and realistic that it almost doesn’t feel like a story. Despite this though, Iweala’s characters and relationships and painted in love.
Top reviews from other countries
I was also happy that Iweala took up the topic of homophobia (influenced by overzealous Christianity and a sense of tradition that erases all lifestyles that don't fit hetero-normative trajectories), the horrors of conversion therapy and other facets of discrimination the protagonist has to face after he is forced out of the closet.
I was disappointed that before any resolution could be reached, the character was killed of rather randomly and the focus then shifted to Meredith, the white girl who used to be his friend in high school.
Yes, police brutality and police racism are very important topics to address, but Iweala did so offhandedly . The readers only learn of the protagonists death in hind sight. By "resolution" I do not mean a conventional happy end necessarily, but any kind of emancipated reaction by the protagonist.