Thursday, May 25, 2006

Beasts of No Nation by Uzodinma Iweala

There is no peace in Beasts of No Nation, a first novel by Uzodinma Iweala, a young Nigerian author. The people of the villages flee when the rebel forces of Commandant Sah appear from the jungle killing and burning indiscriminately. Dehydrated and feverish twelve year old Aga is unable to flee. Strika, a preteen soldier of the insurgency, pulls Aga from a hut into the road where he beats him until stopped by the Commandant. The leader says Aga will become a soldier, too.

Beasts of No Nation is an important book that not many people will like, for there is no relaxing of the terror of inexplicable war. The level of violence and cruelty is far higher than in An Innocent Soldier by Josef Holub, another story of a youth impressed into being a soldier. Like Adam in An Innocent Soldier, Aga does what he has to do to survive and hides when he can. Escape is his only hope.

"There but for the grace of God go I" is a terrible thought for the reader to contemplate. Beasts of No Nation should be in more libraries than it is.

Iweala, Uzodinma. Beasts of No Nation. New York: Harper Collins, 2005. ISBN 006-79867x

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