Book Review – The Fishermen by Chigozie Obioma

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The Fishermen by Chigozie Obioma

I read great things about Chigozie Obioma’s book, The Fishermen. I knew I had to read it ASAP.

Hatred is a leech: The thing that sticks to a person’s skin; that feeds off them and drains the sap out of one’s spirit. It changes a person, and does not leave until it has sucked the last drop of peace from them.



Narrated by Ben, with his lyrical words we are immersed in his family’s story. Surrounded by five siblings; Ikenna, Boja, Obembe, David and Nkem who had great impact in the course of his life. He narrates how their regular family started taking a different turn when their father was transferred to Yola, the aura of strictness their father imposed started to wane after his transfer as they began to explore other outdoor activities to engage in. They pick up fishing at the impermissible Omi Ala without their mother’s knowledge. It is this yearning for adventure that further sets the course of their life as their encounter with Abulu, the madman whose visions were believed to metamorphose into full manifestation. In Abulu’s prophecy, Ikenna, the first child would be killed, the words of Abulu planted a seed in Ikenna’s life which further acted like a script they danced too.

The experiences they go through did not have mercy on their young ages as they are shaped over and over again by the consequences of their decision.

The Fishermen is a beautifully crafted tale of family, friendship, loss, love and survival.


That story, as all good stories, planted a seed in my soul and never left me.

Chigozie Obioma is a brilliant writer!!!!!He does not give you any time to recover from words that capture you, every line holds power, and every word is conjured to exude the dexterity of his sheer creativity. The beginning of each chapters were proverbial, the writer’s attention to details makes the book colourful.

The Fishermen shook me and made me ask a lot of questions. I asked myself if the parents could have done anything to change the course of event. It also made me realize the complexities of parenting. I also kept telling myself that, if this did not happen, this would not have occurred and tried to rationalize some of the events in the book. It is one of those books you have to remind yourself that, “chill, it is fiction”.

You deserve to read a good book, read this book! It is a 4/5 for me.

Title: The Fishermen

Author: Chigozie Obioma

Publisher: Cassava Republic

Format: Paperback

Source: Borrowed

Pages: 304 pages


Told from the point of view of nine year old Benjamin, the youngest of four brothers, THE FISHERMEN is the Cain and Abel-esque story of an unforgettable childhood in 1990’s Nigeria, in the small town of Akure. When their strict father has to travel to a distant city for work, the brothers take advantage of his extended absence to skip school and go fishing. At the ominous, forbidden nearby river, they meet a dangerous local madman who persuades the oldest of the boys that he is destined to be killed by one of his siblings.

What happens next is an almost mythic event whose impact-both tragic and redemptive-will transcend the lives and imaginations of its characters and its readers. Dazzling and viscerally powerful, The Fishermen never leaves Akure but the story it tells has enormous universal appeal. Seen through the prism of one family’s destiny, this is an essential novel about Africa with all of its contradictions-economic, political, and religious-and the epic beauty of its own culture.

With this bold debut, Chigozie Obioma emerges as one of the most original new voices of modern African literature, echoing its older generation’s masterful storytelling with a contemporary fearlessness and purpose.

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  1. Your review did brilliant justice to the book. Do I want to read a book in the voice of a 9 year old? how would the structure be? Not before, now i can’t wait to read it. Do you think we have more male writers now than females because i think we have more females. I’m always on the lookout for male writers with bold, fresh voices.

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