a harrowing debut

Ali Smith in The Guardian:

Beasts_final … Beasts of No Nation, a first novel by Uzodinma Iweala, who is 23 and a Harvard graduate and has worked with Nigerian child soldiers in rehabilitation. This is the live underbelly of such a situation, in a novel so scorched by loss and anger that it’s hard to hold and so gripping in its sheer hopeless lifeforce that it’s hard to put down. In the writing, Beasts of No Nation is totally and shockingly alive from its very first paragraph. “It is starting like this. I am feeling itch like insect is crawling on my skin, and then my head is just starting to tingle right between my eye, and then I am wanting to sneeze because my nose is itching, and then air is just blowing into my ear and I am hearing so many thing: the clicking of insect, the sound of truck grumbling like one kind of animal, and then the sound of somebody shouting TAKE YOUR POSITION RIGHT NOW! QUICK! QUICK QUICK! MOVE WITH SPEED! MOVE FAST OH! in voice that is just touching my body like knife.”

This novel is winner of the Los Angeles Times Art Seidenbaum award for first fiction, the Sue Kaufman prize for first fiction from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the New York Public Library Young Lions fiction award.

Thanks to Anjuli Raza Kolb for giving me this very powerful book.

More here.