June 07, 2015

The Fishermen by Chigozie Obioma | Book Review

The Fishermen focuses on the lives of four brothers - Ikenna, Boja, Obembe, and Benjamin - but it's also about the disintegration of a family of eight in Akure, a town in western Nigeria. Benjamin, the youngest of the four brothers, narrates their story as he looks back on their life together. The Fishermen begins with the family's reception of the news that Benjamin's dad had gotten transferred to Yola to work, and he was going to leave his family behind in Akure. While he's gone, Benjamin's mom finds it really hard to rein in four adolescent, headstrong boys, and thus begins the crumbling of their family unit. It starts slow at first and then it all goes south shockingly quick.

In The Fishermen, Chigozie weaves in events from Nigeria's history into this story, pegging his tale into a period of time we can all recognize. I liked the nostalgic references to Chinua Achebe, M.K.O. Abiola, Amokachi, and the lyrics from Onyeka Onwenu's famous "Iyogogo" song, among other things. I got a little frustrated early on and every now and then because The Fishermen felt clogged with detailed descriptions about things, areas, paths, locations... Details I honestly did not care about. Were they essential to the story? Probably. Probably not. It's not so bad but it's enough to warrant mentioning. About 60 pages from the end is when I finally begin to really, really feel something. A mounting dread that the worst wasn't over yet and that things were really about to fall apart for good. After I was done reading The Fishermen I realized that I had grossly underestimated this book and Chigozie's skill even though I had been rooting for his debut to be triumphant long before this book came to me in the mail. Chigozie's a good storyteller and without doubt someone we all need to watch in the future.
[Image via The Millions]


  1. Yesss! I read this in May and I loved it so so much. I'll post my review on my book blog in Aug. I just stumbled upon this blog and its great! Will be coming back for more! :)

  2. Thanks!! I just visited your blog African Book Addict and it's really well done, seriously! I'll look out for some of the books you've suggested. Thanks for stopping by. More power to your elbows :)