Published by Little Brown & Company on April 14, 2015
Genres/Lists: Diverse, Fiction
Read synopsis on Goodreads
Buy the book: Amazon/Audible (this post includes affiliate links)
Every once in awhile, I come across a book that I have a love/hate relationship with. The Fishermen by Chigozie Obioma is one such book. The premise is intriguing and the book started out really great, but by around the halfway mark I started to lose steam. It wasn’t that I disliked the book, but rather I wasn’t compelled to pick it up. And so it would languish on my shelf for a few days until I picked it up again. Then, I would read a few pages at a time and put it back down again. I contemplated not finishing it but decided to power through and ended up getting back into it towards the end.
The Fishermen is the story of the Ikenna, Boja, Obembe and Ben, who are brothers. While there are six children in the family, the book focuses on the four oldest. All in their pre-teens or teens, they are the subject of a prophecy by a madman proclaiming that their family will endure a tragic and violent event. Consumed by the possibilities and implications, the brothers begin to turn inward instead of towards each other, letting loose a series of events that rocks the family in ways they never could have imagined.I may not have loved The Fishermen but here's why you might. Click To Tweet
Although I had a hard time staying with The Fishermen, I had no trouble getting into it. The brothers, who are extremely close, display typical hierarchical sibling behaviors with regard to oldest, middle, and youngest children. It makes the family relatable even though they are living in Nigeria and their way of life is very different from my own experiences. The ins and outs of their daily lives captured my attention and I fluctuated between fascination and horror as I learned about them. I also loved the way the author breathed life into feelings that were more powerful as a result of his word choices. For example:
As the book moved forward, however, I started to lose interest. The storyline, which ebbs and flows in its pace, slowed down considerably about halfway through and I found it easy to distract myself with other things. At this point I did a little research on the book and learned that it was a Man Booker Prize finalist. Rather than being a good thing, it left me a bit disheartened because I have yet to read a Man Booker book that I’ve truly enjoyed. But the reviews are overwhelmingly positive and I was so far into the book that I decided to keep going. Thankfully, the book picked up the pace again and I found myself interested in the fate of the boys and their family once again.
While I can’t say I loved this book, it is a decent read. The relationships between Ikenna, Boja, Obembe and Ben and how they influence everything they do is what propels the story forward. The family dynamic is intricately woven and it’s easy to see how one prophecy can impact an entire family in both big and small ways. If you’re interested in learning about another culture and are drawn in by this type of story, then The Fishermen might be for you.
Recommended for: Readers who want a unique perspective into the lives of a family living in Nigeria and a bit of the superstitious.