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From Barnes & NobleBarnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers
Iweala's novel is a book about children, and about as far from a children's book as one can get. It's a horrifying portrait of war that takes readers to hell -- all too real in the world today -- the hell of child soldiers in Africa. But it is the author's verbal dexterity that makes this work of fiction so gripping and utterly original.
Agu is a young boy when war comes to his village. He loses his family, and in trying to escape, he is kidnapped by guerrilla fighters and conscripted into their ragtag army. So his education in war begins -- and soon Agu too, is committing atrocities, in an effort to survive.
Written in a unique voice that's part patois, part mythical epic, and part childlike reportage, Agu's narration casts a harrowing spell. Iweala, a young American of Nigerian descent, drew on the memories of his own family and that of refugees with whom he worked to craft his first novel, and the result is a fully realized work of fiction. Agu's account of the war has a musical quality, and his disarmingly innocent language clashes violently with the savagery he describes, mirroring the battle raging in his own heart. For at its core, Beasts of No Nation is not merely the description of a physical battle but of a spiritual one -- the battle for a boy's very soul. And by the book's end, we can glimpse redemption. (Holiday 2005 Selection)