'The Fishermen' Ventures Into Dark Waters

April 15, 2015 11:00 AM

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"Omi-Ala was a dreadful river," explains Ben, the young narrator of Chigozie Obioma's The Fishermen. "Like many such rivers in Africa, Omi-Ala was once believed to be a god; people worshipped it." But everything changed when Europeans colonized and Christianized the part of Nigeria where the river lay. "[T]he people, now largely Christians, began to see it as an evil place. A cradle besmeared."

The river, with its "bracken waters ... [and] nauseating sight of algae and leaves that formed the shape of a map of troubled nations," is as much a character in Obioma's engrossing debut novel as the title fishermen, a group of boys who disobey their elders and spend afternoons angling on the banks...

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