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Song for Night

3.99 of 5 stars 3.99  ·  rating details  ·  546 ratings  ·  90 reviews
Abani''s new novella furthers his tremendous success in becoming today''s most acclaimed young African
ebook, 170 pages
Published September 1st 2007 by Akashic Books (first published January 1st 2007)
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Hazel
Dec 28, 2010 Hazel rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  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
...more
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
...more
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
...more
Irene
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
Yair Bezalel
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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Mark
Beautiful and terrifying.
Robert J  Burdock
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
Kathleen
Jan 21, 2014 Kathleen rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  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
...more
Karen
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.
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.
Scott
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kathrina
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.
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
Kim
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
...more
Wyatt
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
...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
Autumn
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Anne Frisbie
A lyrical almost poem-like story. A tragically beautiful 13-year old boy.

Before reading it I thought ... "Well if I don't like it, I won't be able to say that, because I will sound heartless."

After reading it, all I think is that I really liked this boy, and that Chris Abani is a wonderful writer.

Don't expect plot. Only expect a song for night.
Gabrielle Callaghan
Brilliant. Totally, utterly brilliant.
I am still unsure about what the ending implicates about the experiences of 'My Luck' but this has to be one of the most compelling books I have ever read.
Jill
I expected to like this a lot more and I'm still not sure why I didn't. It was very unique but I think I found it a bit too earnest. I liked the ending and the slow twist-esque thing in the plot.
Jess
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
Liberty
Stunning poetry. I will never forget the scene where the woman, while being raped, looks with compassion and love upon her perpetrator.
Robin Winter
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
Petra Willemse
This would be a great read with any social justice unit. Very riveting, even if the twist is not so twisty!
Amanda
Story of child soldier, told from his perspective. Simple and easy to read yet vivid and haunting.
Ann Klefstad
I don't know why the book seems not credible as testimony . . .somehow it's not. Is it the seamlessness of the tableaux? not sure. But it is a Proustian reminiscence, that is, a brilliantly constructed one, where the sensuality of the construction is the point. It's weirdly reassuring that the need for aesthetic satisfaction is for some of us the dominant need. There's a selflessness that's necessary for such encompassing imagination of the world.

so it's a dazzling and strange small book. Someh
...more
Kristine
Well-written story of an Igbo child soldier in West Africa, a mine diffuser separated from his platoon after a detonation. The reader hears his interior monologue as he wanders the war-torn villages and countryside looking for his platoon, reliving both the atrocities and graces of his life. It's a short novel filled with meaning and beauty in language--ironic as the boy is mute after having his vocal cords cut to silence any screams. The chapters are fittingly titled with the explanations for h ...more
Reema
How can you not love Master Abani's work: spare poetry, the terror of common human wants and impulses, and the small ways in which people redeem themselves and/or save others. Especially beautiful is the metaphor, among others, structuring the book's architecture--titles signifying a sign language movement for a particular word (love, imagination, etc.) in a book narrated by a child soldier whose vocal cords have been cut. This is the kind of defiant shit that makes writers some of the most awes ...more
Owen
it took me a while to figure out where this took place. despite the image on the cover, i thought it was written about a child fighting in the vietnam war. it is not about the specific war really, it is a story through the eyes of a child fighter in a civil war - a person who has reached the edge of humanity and who stumbled into the abyss. the imagery is beautiful and haunting. the language draws you so far in, that you will read the whole thing on two subway trips.
Nam
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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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
...more
More about Chris Abani...
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“The wind is calling in a voice I remember” 5 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.”
1 likes
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