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Song for Night

3.96  ·  Rating Details ·  680 Ratings  ·  115 Reviews
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, y
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ebook, 170 pages
Published September 1st 2007 by Akashic Books (first published January 1st 2007)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Trish
Abani’s work is so shot through with pain that the blessing, when it comes, also sears us. This novella, published in 2007, tells the story of a boy soldier called My Luck. “I have never been a boy. That was stolen from me and I will never be a man—not this way.” Separated from his platoon, he wanders, searching for them while avoiding enemies. He is fifteen. His friends are dead. His family is dead. He punctures the skin on his arm with each new important and personal death, raising bumps that ...more
Hazel
Dec 15, 2010 Hazel rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Hazel by: Literary Fiction by People of Color
This is going to be difficult.
What you hear is not my voice.
I have not spoken in three years: not since I left boot camp. It has been three years of a senseless war, and though the reasons for it are clear, and though we will continue to fight until we are ordered to stop - and probably for a while after that - none of us can remember the hate that led us here. We are simply fighting to survive the war. It is a strange place to be at fifteen, bereft of hope and very nearly of your humanity. But
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Cheryl
This book starts with the alluring line: "What you hear is not my voice." Brilliant. Especially since the book is about a teenage child soldier and mine diffuser who was chosen to work in the mine battlefield because "our light weight would protect us from setting off the deadly mines even when we stepped on them," and whose vocal cords were severed so that "we wouldn't scare each other with our death screams."

The book is ghastly, starting with an orphaned boy alone, in a forest, his girlfriend
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Naz (Read Diverse Books)
As a reader, I believe one of my duties is to experience the narratives of people from all over the world and to expose myself to the lived experiences of as many cultures as possible. Sometimes, this means I get to witness people’s love, joy, and adventures. Those stories are wonderful and we love to read and be enriched by them. But our world is also full of nightmares and horrors that far too many people live and encounter on a daily basis. We may choose to go about our daily lives not thinki ...more
Raven
Jun 08, 2016 Raven rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An incredibly harrowing and thought provoking read, that unsettles but ultimately completely immerses the reader in My Luck’s plight. I was moved and transfixed in equal measure, and this stands as one of the most powerful indictments of the futility, and barbarous nature of civil war I have ever read.
Yair Ben-Zvi
Mar 04, 2014 Yair Ben-Zvi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I don't feel up to the task of reviewing this book. Maybe not 'up to the task' but rather 'worthy'. The subject matter alone (child soldiers in Africa) is enough to turn away many a seasoned reader, and I must admit that despite my having read a good number of dark and 'heavy' novels (the most immediate and relevant that comes to mind is Kozinski's "The Painted Bird which one of the review blurbs adroitly points out) I wasn't quite prepared for this.

Coming from a secular and very western cultura
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Charles Dee Mitchell
We know the horror stories from African civil wars. We read about rape, mutilations, child soldiers, adolescents forced to kill their friends or face death themselves. When I hear people discuss these things, they often describe them “inhuman.” But isn’t that a dodge? The unbearable truth is that any act performed by human beings falls within the range of human potential.

My Luck is an adolescent soldier in Nigeria. He has seen his father, the local iman, murdered by his neighbors. He mother was
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Mark
Apr 29, 2008 Mark rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Beautiful and terrifying.
Robert J  Burdock
Jun 23, 2009 Robert J Burdock rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
Song for Night follows the journey of Nigerian boy soldier My Luck as he endeavours to re-attach himself to his platoon, following the unexpected detonation of a mine. The platoon is a special one, one whose job is focused on reconnaissance and mine clearance, and My Luck’s particular role is in the diffusing of mines, a job for which his small stature is particularly suited. My Luck has also been ’adapted’ for mine clearance, having his voice cords severed so he is unable to scream should he be ...more
Irene Mcintyre
The women were eating and the smell of roasting meat drove us toward them. "Good evening mothers" we said respectfully. The women paused and cackled, but didn't reply, and why would they since they probably didn't understand our crude sign language. We noted that one woman, not as old as the others, was lying on the ground. She was bleeding from a wound to her head and looked dazed. "May we have some food?" I asked. I was the unranked leader of the group. "We are brave warriors fighting for your ...more
Kathleen
Jun 18, 2008 Kathleen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
This is a great book.

Chris Abani took me to the world of war, and love and brought me to a place of sad understanding. The story is about a young boy, brought into war as a youngster, to help in locating and defusing mines left to kill anyone in their path. Young boys brought to the 'job' because they don't weigh much (less apt to eat much or to set off the landmine), they'll do what they're told. Then, to make sure they are always quiet... well, you'll have to read it to find out. For me, this
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Karen
Jun 26, 2010 Karen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the rare book to which I wish I could give a sixth star. This beautifully lyrical and tragic book is in a category by itself. The story of a thirteen year old soldier forced to murder, rape and pillage, he nonetheless struggles to guard his own humanity and honor that of the other unfortunates he meets in his terrible journey. I promise you will not forget either the writing, the protagonist or the situation he finds himself in.
Kathrina
Jul 29, 2012 Kathrina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nigerian
A quick read that lies heavy in the heart. Justifies my love for GraceLand, a favorite book from 2004. Abani combines tough truth with lyricism.
kelly
Dec 12, 2015 kelly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"What you hear is not my voice," begins the fifteen year old child soldier protagonist in Chris Abani's "Song of Night." He has not spoken in three years, ever since he was 12 years old. The main character's human voice, we learn, was surgically severed so that he and his fellow soldiers wouldn't "scare each other with death screams" while completing their grisly job of diffusing land mines.

At the beginning of the book, My Luck (the main character's actual name) wakes up on a land mine after a p
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Tyler Auffhammer
I had to read this novel in a class during freshman year and wasn't really aware of all the implications that it had on the world, i.e. what it was saying about the world we live in. I think when you are young you fail to see what is really out there, but now, when re-reading it, I found it fabulous in weaving a tale that is so real to the world today. The main characters mission to find it troops (a child soldier in modern Africa) is really a tale of a young man coming to terms with his own dea ...more
Ian Trupin
Jul 05, 2015 Ian Trupin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book does an amazing job of walking the line between waking dream, life and death. I won't say more so as not to ruin the ending.

One thing though, I'm getting annoyed by all the people talking about the setting as some generic "African War". There is no generic African war, just as Africa is not a country. This is fairly clearly set in the Biafran War of 1967-1970. There is a specific context and history to this story and its worth your while to understand that rather than shedding a few (w
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Isla McKetta
Have I ever read anything Chris Abani wrote that I didn't like? I guess I haven't. More of an elegy than Graceland, this haunting book takes the reader inside the world of a child soldier from an emotional rather than a rational point of view. It is perfect for someone who can't stomach the standard expose on genocide but who wants to gain some understanding of the mindset. Beautiful, lyrical, and sad.
Ayat Al Bloushi
Dec 13, 2015 Ayat Al Bloushi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"I have never been a boy. That was stolen from me and I will never be a man—not this way. I am some kind of a chimera who knows only the dreadful intimacy of killing."


an amazing terrifying experience of a child soldier. It really tells what we couldn't imagine..
Nikki
Oct 10, 2016 Nikki rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A haunting novella exploring the consequences of war on a child. My heart soared and fell with every chapter.
Alegna Santos
A very sad but powerful narrative. I recommend this reading to anyone, especially someone who appreciates eloquent/ raw writing/story telling.
Katie
Dec 19, 2016 Katie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read the book for a class in Contemporary World Lit and it was by far my favorite in the class. It is certainly difficult subject matter, but Abani's poetic prose is absolutely gorgeous. I can't stop recommending it.
Kim
Aug 05, 2010 Kim rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: best-books, african, 2010
I have seldom read a more beautifully written story than this. That the content is so harrowing makes the beauty of the prose so much amazing.

This book is about a child soldier in a land-mine clearing unit who gets separated from his platoon. In search of his platoon he crosses the country, visiting both the physical and the emotional effects of war on both himself and the country. As if being 13 and a soldier is not bad enough, the landmine-clearing units have their vocal cords severed so that
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Wyatt
Feb 09, 2009 Wyatt rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lately, one can easily walk into Borders and feeling awash in child soldier books--from Along Way Gone, to Dave Eggers, to Beasts of No Nation. Though other authors have walked this line recently, Chris Abani's has put his talent for rich characterization into every step of this book. I don't like the think of this as a child soldier novel. Creating such a genre would make it to easy to be dismissive.

I have yet to read something from Chris Abani that I haven't loved. Though his stories are commo
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Scott
Nov 17, 2014 Scott rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kachi A
Jun 04, 2015 Kachi A rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I don't know about this one. The story though compelling in its descriptions of the horrors of war, seems to be all over the place. There's something in the narrative that seems to be missing. The book was written with too much of a western literary reference point creating a sort of chimerical main character; almost as if the protagonist was an experienced western soldier going through the trauma of war and not a Nigerian teenage soldier in the midst of the biafran war. This erased some of the ...more
Book Bazaar
Tracey read this one so this is her review

- its going to be like *A Boy In striped PJ's* was for the story of the

Jews in concentration camps....but this time for the boy soldiers in

wars in Africa. It is compelling, upsetting and sometiemes very raw.

Certainly speaks to the powerlessness of the children and the ease at

which they are indoctrinated to the way of the guerilla warfare. The

true horror of war is bought out in a way that is easily identified

with by the reader. There is no sensatio
...more
Kris
Mar 21, 2016 Kris rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It is difficult to read about child soldiers. This novella follows My Luck, who is a child soldier in a mine sweeping platoon in Nigeria. The story is told as he tries to find his platoon and alternately seeks his home, peace, forgiveness and the ones he still loves. The lyrical, amazing language helps the reader not only feel the pain and horrific experiences but see the beauty and the realness of life, anywhere. Resilience and hope squeezes out of the pages at times, but finding home is heartb ...more
Autumn
Aug 06, 2009 Autumn rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Robin Winter
Oct 16, 2012 Robin Winter rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Our mute protagonist is a boy soldier, vocal cords severed so he can serve as a mine sweeper in Biafra/Nigeria's desperate war. We may only hear his 'voice' inside our own silence. Layered behind his recital of experience and trauma surges his yearning to reach out, even if no one can fully understand what he has done and been. Brutalized and brutalizing, he sustains an agonizing tenderness for his lost mother and perished friends, losses that haunt his soundless cry. Not one misspent word. Chri ...more
Jessika
May 16, 2008 Jessika rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, library
I loved this book--it was written so well and with such a simple style that the reader could actually believe that the story was being told from the perspective of a young boy. The story itself was not only heartwrenching, in the fact that it is awful what these child soldiers are forced to endure, but it is also very mysterious, leaving the readers with questions all along the way. I especially like how in the end, Abani never gives a direct answer to what exactly happened to My Luck, but leave ...more
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Christopher Abani (or Chris Abani) is a Nigerian author.

He was a political prisoner in Nigeria at various times during 1985 and 1991. At times he was held in solitary confinement and he was held on death row for some time after being sentenced to death for treason.

He is a Professor at the University of California, Riverside and the recipient of the PEN USA Freedom-to-Write Award, the 2001 Prince C
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More about Chris Abani...

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“The wind is calling in a voice I remember” 6 likes
“What you hear is not my voice.
I have not spoken in three years: not since I left boot camp. It has been three years of a senseless war, and though the reasons for it are clear, and though we will continue to fight until we are ordered to stop-and probably for a while after that-none of us can remember the hate that led us here. We are simply fighting to survive the war. It is a strange place to be at fifteen, bereft of hope and very nearly of your humanity. But that is where I am nonetheless.”
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