Fiction: “Beasts of No Nation” by Uzodinma Iweala

Gifted to me for Christmas; probably not something I would have bought myself. That said, I agree with the blurb that it’s written in “a powerful, strikingly original voice.” It certainly took me to a place I’ve never been and am unlikely to ever be, and that’s really about the MOST you can ask out of a piece of art isn’t it.

I liked: the intensity, the descriptions, the “beat” or rhythm of the book. The despair and confusion and misery and longing of the narrator are made palpable.

I didn’t like two things: 1) The “dialect.” The author states in the interview in back that he purposely used this “pidgin english” but I felt it distanced me from the character, rather than giving me insight into him. 2) The fact that his precise age was never really clear; he felt “older” and “younger” in different parts, but the novel was consecutive. How old is a “child soldier”? 8? 15? There’s a big difference between those ages but couldn’t really tell from the text (but maybe you weren’t supposed to be able to?).

It’s a very short book / quick read, but not likely to leave your mind that fast.