Beasts of No Nation
Beasts of No Nation
HarperCollins, Hardcover, 9780060798673, 160pp.
Publication Date: November 1, 2005
In this stunning debut novel, Agu, a young boy in an unnamed West African nation, is recruited into a unit of guerrilla fighters as civil war engulfs his country. Haunted by his father's own death at the hands of militants, which he fled just before witnessing, Agu is vulnerable to the dangerous yet paternal nature of his new commander.
While the war rages on, Agu becomes increasingly divorced from the life he had known before the conflict started -- a life of school friends, church services, and time with his family still intact. As he vividly recalls these sunnier times, his daily reality spins further downward into inexplicable brutality, primal fear, and loss of selfhood. His relationship with his commander deepens even as it darkens, and his camaraderie with a fellow soldier lends a deceptive sense of normalcy to his experience.
In a powerful, strikingly original voice that vividly captures Agu's youth and confusion, Uzodinma Iweala has produced a harrowing, deeply affecting novel. Both a searing take on coming-of-age and a vivid document of the dark face of war, Beasts of No Nation announces the arrival of an extaordinary new writer.
Uzodinma Iweala was born in 1982 in Washington, D.C. He graduated from Harvard University, where he was a Mellon Mays Scholar and received a number of prizes for his writing, including the Eager Prize, the Horman Prize, the Le Baron Briggs Prize, and the Hoopes Prize, awarded for outstanding undergraduate thesis. He lives in New York City.
“Searing and visceral. . . . Agu’s unblinking innocence gives the story its most powerful and disturbing beauty.”
-San Diego Union-Tribune
“Remarkable. . . . Iweala never wavers from a gripping, pulsing narrative voice.”
-Entertainment Weekly (A)
“The hypnotic present tense, first-person narration draws the reader deep into the child soldier’s shattered psyche.”
-The Washington Post
“A raw, compelling first novel.”
“Stark, vivid.... Written like a nightmare in progress, this story is a fever dream of voice and consciousness.”
-San Francisco Chronicle
“Uzodinma Iweala is receiving not just hype but praise from reviewers for the frighteningly convincing voice of a preteen soldier.”
-New York Magazine
“Devastating...a raw and brutal story about the horrifying effects of cruelty and the incredible power of hope.”
“Uzodinma Iweala is a gifted and brave writer.”
-Chris Abani, author of GraceLand
“A brilliant debut. . . . This is a remarkable novel that suggests a dazzling literary future.”
“An astonishing debut.”
-Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“A powerful debut.”
-The Times of London
“An outstanding first novel. . . . Resonant, beautiful. . . . Iweala’s book will be readily embraced by readers.”
-Janet Maslin, The New York Times
“Searing. . . . An extraordinary debut novel.”
“This is an extraordinary book. . . . It’s so vivid [and] powerful.”
“A harrowing account of the intoxication of violence…that offers no easy answers or explanations.”
“[Beasts of No Nation] is a work of visceral urgency…it heralds the arrival of a major talent.”
-Amitav Ghosh, author of The Glass Palace
“A startling debut…. Iweala’s acute imagining allows him to depict the war as a mesh of bestial pleasures and pain.”
-The New Yorker