Lisa's Reviews > Beneath the Darkening Sky

Beneath the Darkening Sky by Majok Tulba
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's review
Jan 19, 16

really liked it
bookshelves: australia, c21st, 12review
Read from July 29 to 30, 2012

It was a surreal experience to read this book straight after Jon Doust’s novel To the Highlands. Doust’s engaging tale is the story of a privileged young man who loses his way in life. He gets packed off to the New Guinea Highlands where he has a great time proving his warped sense of manhood, and pays a penalty that most of us in western society might say he did not deserve even though he brought it on himself.

Majok Tulba’s novel, by contrast, is the story of Obinna, a boy soldier recruited into a rebel army in South Sudan. He is forced to prove his manhood by committing atrocities in order to survive. He is beaten, tortured, deprived of food and water and forbidden even to think about the past or his family on pain of death. It is a harrowing book written by a South Sudanese refugee who narrowly escaped this fate himself.

Obinna’s village is one of many attacked by the revolutionaries. A boy still in primary school, he witnesses the savage murder of his father and the other adult males, and the rape of his mother and the other women. The huts are fired, the crops destroyed and the livestock butchered. The pretty young girls are taken as ‘hospitality women’ and the boys are lined up to be measured. Obinna and his brother Akot are taller than the height of an AK47 so they are marched off into the bush as new recruits.

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