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Beasts of no nation : a novel
Uzodinma Iweala
Adult Fiction IWEALA

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From Publishers' Weekly:

Iweala's visceral debut is unrelenting in its brutality and unremitting in its intensity. Agu, the precocious, gentle son of a village schoolteacher father and a Bible-reading mother, is dragooned into an unnamed West African nation's mad civil war-a slip of a boy forced, almost overnight, to shoulder a soldier's bloody burden. The preteen protagonist is molded into a fighting man by his demented guerrilla leader and, after witnessing his father's savage slaying, by an inchoate need to belong to some kind of family, no matter how depraved. He becomes a killer, gripped by a muddled sense of revenge as he butchers a mother and daughter when his ragtag unit raids a defenseless village; starved for both food and affection, he is sodomized by his commandant and rewarded with extra food scraps and a dry place to sleep. The subject of the 23-year-old novelist's story-Iweala is American born of Nigerian descent-is gripping enough. But even more stunning is the extraordinarily original voice with which this tale is told. The impressionistic narration by a boy constantly struggling to understand the incomprehensible is always breathless, often breathtaking and sometimes heartbreaking. Its odd singsong cadence and twisted use of tense take a few pages to get used to, but Iweala's electrifying prose soon enough propels a harrowing read. (Nov. 8) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

Have you ever wondered how children become enlisted as soldiers, and men become desensitized to slaughter? Iweala's aptly titled debut takes us into the belly of the beast from the perspective of the school-aged Agu. Separated from his family when a civil war erupts, he is taken captive and adopted as a soldier by a band of lawless men and boys. It could be anywhere and anytime in Africa, when desperation, fear, and hatred fuel bloodshed and inhumanity. Agu is cajoled into his first killing, with his commandant telling him it is like falling in love: "You are just having to doing it, he is saying." The soldiers are told to view their enemies as dogs or goats, as meat. With hunger and confusion propelling him, Agu gets a taste for killing-a taste that galls him in the moments when he lets his guard down. The terror that Agu witnesses and engages in is told in his simple, declarative voice that makes the violence all the more senseless and immediate. This slim, harrowing account of the intoxication of violence and how quickly it can escalate is a cautionary tale that offers no easy answers or explanations. Recommended for public and YA libraries. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 7/05; see also "Fall Editors' Picks," p. 40-44.]-Misha Stone, Seattle P.L. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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main characters Agu
Age: Preteen
Precocious; caught in the middle of a civil war; forced to become a soldier; witnessed his father's slaying; longs to belong to some kind of family; rewarded by his guerrilla leader for killing people; struggling to comprehend life around him.

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