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Song for Night

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Song for Night Cover

ISBN13: 9781933354316
ISBN10: 1933354313
Condition: Student Owned
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Awards

2007 PEN/Beyond Margins Award Finalist

Synopses & Reviews

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Publisher Comments:

Part Inferno, part Paradise Lost, and part Sunjiata epic, Song for Night is the story of a West African boy soldier's lyrical, terrifying, yet beautiful journey through the nightmare landscape of a brutal war in search of his lost platoon. The reader is led by the voiceless protagonist who, as part of a land mine-clearing platoon, had his vocal chords cut; a move to keep these children from screaming when blown up, and thereby distracting the other minesweepers. Written in a ghostly voice, each chapter is headed by a line of the unique sign language these children invented. This book is unlike anything else ever written about an African war.

Review:

"We take a necessary, if lurid, interest in the tragic fate of the child soldier, a figure not especially new in the history of war, but one that remains an unsettling paradox all the same — the ineffable mixing of innocence and terror. The Nigerian writer Chris Abani's latest novella, 'Song for Night,' follows in the wake of two exceptional books exploring the theme of boy soldiers and internecine... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review)

Review:

"Chris Abani might be the most courageous writer working right now. There is no subject matter he finds daunting, no challenge he fears. Aside from that, he's stunningly prolific and writes like an angel. If you want to get at the molten heart of contemporary fiction, Abani is the starting point." Dave Eggers, author of What Is the What

Review:

"Not since Jerzy Kosinski's The Painted Bird or Agota Kristof's Notebook Trilogy has there been such a harrowing novel about what it's like to be a young person in a war. That Chris Abani is able to find humanity, mercy, and even, yes, forgiveness, amid such devastation is something of a miracle." Rebecca Brown, author of The End of Youth

Review:

"The moment you enter these pages, you step into a beautiful and terrifying dream. You are in the hands of a master, a literary shaman. Abani casts his spell so completely — so devastatingly — you emerge cleansed, redeemed: and utterly haunted." Brad Kessler, author of Birds in Fall

Review:

"Abani is a fiction writer of mature and bounteous gifts...Abani, himself incarcerated and tortured for his writings and activism in Nigeria in the mid-'80s, writes about the body's capacity for both ecstasy and pain with an honesty and precision rarely encountered in recent fiction..." New York Times Book Review

Review:

"Song for Night has the feel of a prose poem, with its primary focus on imagery (the consumption of fish, the dripping of water, the feverish repetition of dreams) and its spare, musical language. The lyrical intensity of the writing perfectly suits the material." Los Angeles Times

Synopsis:

Abani's new novella furthers his tremendous success in becoming today's most acclaimed young African

Synopsis:

"Not since Jerzy Kosinski’s The Painted Bird or Agota Kristof’s Notebook Trilogy has there been such a harrowing novel about what it’s like to be a young person in a war. That Chris Abani is able to find humanity, mercy, and even, yes, forgiveness, amid such devastation is something of a miracle.”—Rebecca Brown, author of The End of Youth

"The moment you enter these pages, you step into a beautiful and terrifying dream. You are in the hands of a master, a literary shaman. Abani casts his spell so completely—so devastatingly—you emerge cleansed, redeemed, and utterly haunted."—Brad Kessler, author of Birds in Fall

Part Inferno, part Paradise Lost, and part Sunjiata epic, Song for Night is the story of a West African boy soldier’s lyrical, terrifying, yet beautiful journey through the nightmare landscape of a brutal war in search of his lost platoon. The reader is led by the voiceless protagonist who, as part of a land mine-clearing platoon, had his vocal chords cut, a move to keep these children from screaming when blown up, and thereby distracting the other minesweepers. The book is written in a ghostly voice, with each chapter headed by a line of the unique sign language these children invented. This book is unlike anything else ever written about an African war.

Chris Abani is a Nigerian poet and novelist and the author of The Virgin of Flames, Becoming Abigail (a New York Times Editor’s Choice), and GraceLand (a selection of the Today Show Book Club and winner of the 2005 PEN/Hemingway Prize and the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award). His other prizes include a PEN Freedom to Write Award, a Prince Claus Award, and a Lannan Literary Fellowship. He lives and teaches in California.

Synopsis:

This harrowing novel by Nigerian poet and award-winning novelist Abani tells the story of a West African boy soldiers lyrical, terrifying, yet beautiful journey through the nightmare landscape of a brutal war in search of his lost platoon.

About the Author

Chris Abani is a Nigerian poet and novelist and the author of The Virgin of Flames, Becoming Abigail (a New York Times Editors' Choice), and GraceLand (a selection of the Today Show Book Club; winner of the 2005 PEN/Hemingway Prize and the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award). His other prizes include a PEN Freedom-to-Write Award, a Prince Claus Award, and a Lannan Literary Fellowship. He lives and teaches in California.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 1 comment:

Grady Harp, October 9, 2007 (view all comments by Grady Harp)
War From a Child's Vantage

In SONG FOR NIGHT author Chris Abani has achieved what few authors have even dared - relating the grisly aspects of war as seen through the eyes of a warrior child. The mixture of innocence and participation in some of the most gruesome details of war make this novel difficult to read, yet at the same time Abani's narrator, My Luck, is a young lad with whom we not only completely identify in his sharing of his experiences, but also grow to love profoundly. This small book is not only exquisitely crafted - it is a genuine and heartrending little masterpiece.

A West African war-torn nation (probably Abani's own Nigeria where he himself was the victim of the brutality of war) uses children as soldiers. My Luck is part of a small mine diffusing unit, a group of children who were placed in boot camp at age twelve and now at age fifteen are the delicate triggers that determine the presence of field mines, diffusing them, and gathering the then safe mines for weapons for their 'Major'. The children are 'treated' with a surgery that destroys their vocal cords, a brutal means of assuring that when one of the children steps on a live mine his voice will not cry out, signaling the presence of the war unit to the rebels. These mute young soldiers bond, lose each other, and do as they are instructed, creating a life of danger, terror and probable early death, all before they have had the luxury of growing into adults.

My Luck's narration begins as he is thrown in the air by a detonated mine, his fellow 'soldiers' and company believing him dead have left him unconscious in the dirt. My Luck's story is that of a search for his fellow soldiers, a search that triggers recollections of his childhood, his love for a young girl Ijeoma who is killed by a hidden mine, his recurring memories of his nurturing Catholic mother and his deeply religious iman Muslim father, his forced rape of a woman by his commander to prove his manhood, his contact with his elders in visions, his perception of ghosts as his mind and body are starved for food, water, and safety, and his narrowly escaping his enemy's discovery by floating down a river of corpses. My Luck's vision of the world is at once conflicted with a sense of exhilaration that at times equates killing with orgasm. Yet as we follow his mute journey he enters our psyche the way few others characters drawn from the 'world as war' have gained our hearts. 'These are memories. Before we can move from here, we have to relive and release our darkness'.

Abani somehow manages to relate this grisly tale with such sensitive poetic form that he opens windows of light that illuminate both the essence of life and of death. 'Here we believe that when a person dies in a sudden and hard way, their spirit wanders confused looking for its body. Confused because they don't realize they are dead. I know this. Traditionally a shaman would ease such a spirit across to the other world. Now, well, the land is crowded with confused spirits and all the shamans are soldiers.' This is a brilliant little book by a gifted artist. Highly recommended. Grady Harp
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Product Details

ISBN:
9781933354316
Author:
Abani, Chris
Publisher:
Akashic Books
Subject:
General
Subject:
Children and war
Subject:
Africa, West
Subject:
General Fiction
Subject:
General Social Science
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Edition Description:
Trade Paper
Publication Date:
20070931
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
170
Dimensions:
8.3 x 5.6 x 0.6 in 7 oz

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Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
Fiction and Poetry » Popular Fiction » Military
Religion » Comparative Religion » General

Song for Night Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$8.00 In Stock
Product details 170 pages Akashic Books - English 9781933354316 Reviews:
"Review" by , "Chris Abani might be the most courageous writer working right now. There is no subject matter he finds daunting, no challenge he fears. Aside from that, he's stunningly prolific and writes like an angel. If you want to get at the molten heart of contemporary fiction, Abani is the starting point."
"Review" by , "Not since Jerzy Kosinski's The Painted Bird or Agota Kristof's Notebook Trilogy has there been such a harrowing novel about what it's like to be a young person in a war. That Chris Abani is able to find humanity, mercy, and even, yes, forgiveness, amid such devastation is something of a miracle."
"Review" by , "The moment you enter these pages, you step into a beautiful and terrifying dream. You are in the hands of a master, a literary shaman. Abani casts his spell so completely — so devastatingly — you emerge cleansed, redeemed: and utterly haunted."
"Review" by , "Abani is a fiction writer of mature and bounteous gifts...Abani, himself incarcerated and tortured for his writings and activism in Nigeria in the mid-'80s, writes about the body's capacity for both ecstasy and pain with an honesty and precision rarely encountered in recent fiction..."
"Review" by , "Song for Night has the feel of a prose poem, with its primary focus on imagery (the consumption of fish, the dripping of water, the feverish repetition of dreams) and its spare, musical language. The lyrical intensity of the writing perfectly suits the material."
"Synopsis" by ,
Abani's new novella furthers his tremendous success in becoming today's most acclaimed young African
"Synopsis" by ,

"Not since Jerzy Kosinski’s The Painted Bird or Agota Kristof’s Notebook Trilogy has there been such a harrowing novel about what it’s like to be a young person in a war. That Chris Abani is able to find humanity, mercy, and even, yes, forgiveness, amid such devastation is something of a miracle.”—Rebecca Brown, author of The End of Youth

"The moment you enter these pages, you step into a beautiful and terrifying dream. You are in the hands of a master, a literary shaman. Abani casts his spell so completely—so devastatingly—you emerge cleansed, redeemed, and utterly haunted."—Brad Kessler, author of Birds in Fall

Part Inferno, part Paradise Lost, and part Sunjiata epic, Song for Night is the story of a West African boy soldier’s lyrical, terrifying, yet beautiful journey through the nightmare landscape of a brutal war in search of his lost platoon. The reader is led by the voiceless protagonist who, as part of a land mine-clearing platoon, had his vocal chords cut, a move to keep these children from screaming when blown up, and thereby distracting the other minesweepers. The book is written in a ghostly voice, with each chapter headed by a line of the unique sign language these children invented. This book is unlike anything else ever written about an African war.

Chris Abani is a Nigerian poet and novelist and the author of The Virgin of Flames, Becoming Abigail (a New York Times Editor’s Choice), and GraceLand (a selection of the Today Show Book Club and winner of the 2005 PEN/Hemingway Prize and the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award). His other prizes include a PEN Freedom to Write Award, a Prince Claus Award, and a Lannan Literary Fellowship. He lives and teaches in California.

"Synopsis" by , This harrowing novel by Nigerian poet and award-winning novelist Abani tells the story of a West African boy soldiers lyrical, terrifying, yet beautiful journey through the nightmare landscape of a brutal war in search of his lost platoon.
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