Publisher: John Murray
Price: 407 INR
“Commandant is saying we are going to raid one village. Where is the village, I am asking to myself. And what are we to be taking from them? I am not knowing but I am not going to be asking or he might be beating me.”
Uzodinma Iweala’s debut novel, ‘Beasts of No Nation’ is a remarkable one. Set in an African country, it tells the story of a little boy named Agu. Agu has escaped a civil war that has torn his family apart but he has been dragged into another hell-like situation. The novel gives us an insight into his mind and his thoughts as a child as it is narrated by him.
The story starts with Agu realising that he has been captured and brought into an army. But this is an army of rebels. Most of the soldiers in this army are his age except for Commandant. Commandant is the most feared person in the army. Yet, everyone in the army, including Agu, look up to him as their leader. Knowing this, Commandant uses his power to take advantage of Agu’s naïve mind.
While in this army, Agu is exposed to many things. He is taught how to hold a gun, which weighs more than he does. He is taught how to kill. Throughout the book, Agu remembers the life he had before the war. He thinks of his parents and remembers his best friend Dike. He had a normal childhood, he went to school and his dream was to become a doctor or an engineer. But his life was transformed by the monstrosity of the war. Agu’s only friend in the army is Strika, who has not uttered a word since his parents were killed.
The narrative voice in this book is the main character. It is gripping as the whole book is written the way Agu and the rest of the characters speak. This book gives the reader an insight into what a child soldier goes through. It follows the flow of his thoughts. Agu kills people but does not realise what he’s doing. He starts to enjoy it but later regrets it. The physical, mental and emotional torture that he is put through is haunting.
By writing this book, Iweala is showing us the real picture of what goes on with child soldiers in many African countries. He makes us question the kind of unprotected future these children may have. He writes in such a way that the book is easy to read but not easy to put down. It is so riveting that you can finish the book in one sitting. Beasts of No Nation is certainly a must read and the author is definitely someone to watch out for.
If you find the book interesting, buy from Amazon or Flipkart here: