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The Fishermen

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  17,891 ratings  ·  2,290 reviews
In a small town in western Nigeria, four young brothers take advantage of their strict father's absence from home to go fishing at a forbidden local river. They encounter a dangerous local madman who predicts that the oldest boy will be killed by one of his brothers. This prophecy unleashes a tragic chain of events of almost mythic proportions. ...more
Hardcover, 297 pages
Published April 14th 2015 by Little, Brown and Company
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Paul Larke
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if it was, i would have read it in the reviews.…more
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Average rating 3.87  · 
Rating details
 ·  17,891 ratings  ·  2,290 reviews

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May 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
Oh, how I loved the end of this book! It made my heart soar.

Really, really well done debut novel that is worthy of the Man Booker shortlisting. It is a family drama with overtones of a Greek tragedy. The story is narrated by Ben, both as a 10-year old child and an adult man looking back. Ben is the 4th son of a tightly knit Nigerian family that begins to unravel when the disciplinarian father takes a job at the Nigerian Central Bank in another city. Without the father's watchful eyes on them, th
4.5 stars
The madman has entered our house with violence
Defiling our sacred grounds
Claiming the single truth of the universe
Bending down our high priests with iron
Ah! yes the children,
Who walked on our Forefathers’ graves
Shall be stricken with madness.
They shall grow the fangs of the lizard
They shall devour each other before our eyes
And by ancient command
It is forbidden to stop them!
- poem by Mazisi Kunene,
the epigraph to The Fishermen

Chigozie Obioma's talent as a powerful storyte
Jun 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing

This review has been long overdue. I read The Fishermen some time ago following a brilliant review by the African Book Addict before the Booker long list was announced and I jumped right into the novel, with no inkling that it would fast become one of my favourite books of the year.
Written from the perspective of younger brother Benjamin, the novel follows the lives of four Nigerian brothers from a close knit family, their prophetic encounter with a madman and the devastating effect that one mom
Jul 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Oh yeah, definitely a must read. This was good good Igbo village storytelling. If anyone's work should be compared to Chinua Achebe, it's this one. But it's also got its own unique voice. There were times when it meandered a bit too much for my taste; sometimes there were details that felt included in order to pull the voice away from the point-of-view of a ten year old (these felt heavy-handed and often out of place)... but these moments didn't keep me from continuing. It's not a perfect novel ...more
Mar 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I'm just floored right now. This is a dark, haunting, tragic, heart-wrenching BUT amazing story of 4 brothers and their family and a madman - Abulu. Right when you think things get better and the craziness plateaus, something pops up! I feel like I know/knew Ikenna, Boja, Obembe and Ben - their love and brotherhood are so dear to me, I don't know why. Chigozie Obioma wrote about these boys in such a tender way that had me ALLLLL in my feelings. I felt
Mar 27, 2016 rated it it was ok
This novel was selected for my book club, but I actually skipped the meeting since I didn’t want to heap negativity on other people who may have liked it.

But here, no one is stuck in a room with me so I’ll let it rip.

The Fishermen takes place in Nigeria in the mid-90s. It’s the story of four brothers in a small village who sneak out to the river—a place they are forbidden to go—and fish. One day, a terrifying, mentally ill man foretells that the oldest one will be killed by one of the others.
Dec 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: africa, audiobooks
Some books need to be read aloud so that the texture comes across in sound. Chukwudi Iwuji did an excellent job of performing this book, at times changing his intonations to suit the mood, switching to Igbo or Yoruba accents, paying attention to words and dialect and meaning in sound. This was a joy to listen to on several three-hour car journeys.

The past and present are beautifully intertwined in this story of brothers. Told from the retrospect of one brother who has just spent a few years as
Aug 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I loved this story from the start. The first quarter of the novel had me chuckling and nodding my head in recognition at the family dynamics, especially when it comes to strict Education! Education! parents. Chigozie's imagery and metaphors are superb, and something in the prose and unfolding of events gives the story a magical realism bent, though everything is plausible.

Really, the story is presented as a fable, with nearly each chapter named after an animal and beginning with who that animal
Book Riot Community
This book has been on my reading list for a solid two years and I’m thrilled I finally picked it up. The Fishermen captures the complex dynamics of brotherhood at a young age in a way that harbors both natural sentimentality and literary gravitas. Narrated by Ben, a nine-year-old Nigerian boy with four brothers living in a rural town, Obioma’s novel is adeptly attuned to how enormous and wondrous everything seems during childhood, but what makes The Fishermen truly remarkable is the author’s abi ...more
Feb 10, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: black-authors
The Fishermen tells the story of a family in ruins after a madman's prophesy drives one brother to be plagued with fear. Obioma utilizes a lot of mythological and folkloric story-telling techniques, especially drawing on the natural world. It reads much like a parable, and I can't help but think that certain parts, especially the title, are direct biblical allusions.

I'll admit I wasn't a big fan of the first half of this story. It seems disjointed and focused on setting up the atmosphere of the
Bam cooks the books ;-)
I did things a little backwards here and recently read Obioma's second book, An Orchestra of Minorities, before deciding I really had to get to his debut novel.

This story begins in 1996 and is about the wealthy Agwu family of Akure, Nigeria, who have six children. Father "defended fathering so many children by saying he wanted us to be many so that there could be diversity of success in the family. 'My children will be great men,' he'd say. 'They will be lawyers, doctors, engineers.'"

The fathe
After chapter 10:

The Fishermen is a difficult read. I had been warned but didn't take the warning seriously. Stupid me. What is described is revolting - vomit, excrement, penises, rivers of blood. Sex, mystical beliefs, political riots - all in a jumble. Maybe this is what modern authors write nowadays given that we live in a world of such violence. There better be a good point to the book for presenting such content. Disjointed and confusing, but from time to time there is a beautiful sentence
Helene Jeppesen
Aug 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
For some reason, it took me a long time to finish this book even though it's relatively short. But when I did read in it, I loved it! I think I just needed to process it, because this is a really heavy story that, however, starts very abruptly and makes you question the purpose of this narrative in the beginning.
The Fishermen are a bunch of brothers who live in Nigeria and who are very connected. They seem to really grow up over the course of one year, and what starts out as a bittersweet, amus
Jen Campbell
Aug 22, 2015 rated it really liked it
Video review to follow :)
Really interesting an immersive story. I was invested in this coming of age tale of a Nigerian family. Not a happy tale but so good!! rtc

5 Stars

Listened to the audio book narrated by Chukwudi Iwuji. He was perfect for this book. Superb!
Jessica Woodbury
I heard raves about this book for months before I finally got to it. And despite having heard so much about it, I knew pretty much nothing except the setup. No one told me what came next. Which, admittedly, is how I prefer it. But it's worth noting at this point that this is a book that would be the most heartwrenching of the year were it not for the fact that A Little Life was also a 2015 release. If you're one of those people who can't read novels where bad things happen to children (and I kno ...more
Jan 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I won this book in a giveaway...thank you!
This was one of the most amazing books I have ever read. Kirkus Reviews described it best: "The talented Obioma exhibits a richly nuanced understanding of culture and character.... A powerful, haunting tale of grief, healing, and sibling loyalty."
I used my hands to turn the pages but then my heart took over and I was totally engrossed in this incredible book and I don't think I will ever forget Ikenna, Boja, Obe, or Ben. I highly recommend
“I have now come to know that what one believes often becomes permanent, and what become permanent can be indestructible.”

----Chigozie Obioma

Chigozie Obioma, an ward winning Nigerian writer, has penned a captivating and a spellbinding tale called, The Fishermen that revolves around four brothers living in a small town in Nigeria, who in the absence of their strict father, decide one day to go for fishing in the river that is supposed-to-be-cursed, later to sell their catch for good money, but
Aug 24, 2015 rated it really liked it
Oh why didn't I review this before.

Honestly, I was kind of disappointed when I read this. I only picked it up due to it being shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, which does unfortunately lead to a lot of expectation. I really should learn to stay away from hyped up books until all the drama and attention dies down.

So, now looking back at this a few months later I can begin to appreciate this on a different level. I think it was a real family saga, one that introduced me to a totally differen
Tea Jovanović
Amazing debut novel! Shortlisted for several awards... Africa, brothers, family, coming of age, masterfully crafted novel! Unique new voice in world literature! #mustread

Dobar prevod na srpski...
Continuing my occasional journey through Booker shortlist/longlist history, it was interesting to approach Obioma's debut novel having read the later An Orchestra of Minorities first. The two books do share some common elements - both could be seen as modern Greek tragedies, but this one seems a little tighter, and rather less dependent on understanding the spirit world. It is clear, not least because the book is mentioned, that Things Fall Apart is a major influence.

This is a story of four brot
Gumble's Yard - Golden Reviewer
Review revisited after the author’s stronger but still I felt flawed second novel was also Booker shortlisted by another jury keen to produce a diverse and international shortlist.

A tale of four Nigerian brothers (told in the narrative present tense by the youngest brother Ben many years later)

The story very consciously rests on African storytelling (which often leads to inconsistencies in the retelling, as well as the blend of folklore and superstition with a country struggling in but part of
This elegant coming-of-age novel is told from the point of view of Benjamin Agwu, a 10-year old boy growing up in the small Nigerian village of Akure. He bears witness to the breakdown of his family and his three older brothers Ikenna, Boja, and Obembe, after an encounter with Abulu the Madman, who's foreboding prophecy changes everything.

Debut author Chigozie Obioma shows true talent with imagery and smooth prose, giving the story a storybook, fable quality which Lends weight to the retrospecti
Liz Janet
Aug 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourites
A story about a Nigerian family in the 1990s, as it gets plagued by the "prophesy" of a madman about the death of a brother at the hands of another, which ultimately leads to the demise of their bond and much more. I see this work as a myth, one of those that have yet to find the form they truly are and must first be shaped by the many voices that spread via word of mouth.

Apart from the obvious biblical vibe I got reading this, it also felt a bit like Chinua Achebe. I know, I know, I cannot com
Tanja Berg
Aug 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is a fascinating story about the four oldest brother in a family - Ikenne, Boja, Obembe and Ben. They go fishing at the river they are forbidden to play by. Ominously the local madman prophecies that the oldest brother Ikenne will be killed by one of his brothers. Well, self-fulfilling profecies ahoy, everything begins to disentegrate around the once so close brothers.

The setting is Nigeria of the 1990's, unfamiliar territory for me, and thus interesting in its own right. The books is well-
Sep 07, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: overdrive, audio
I liked this book less the more I read. A normal middle class Nigerian family, without any seeming problems, suddenly becomes unhinged after the father moves to another city to work. His family cannot go with him because the new city is not safe, but he returns to the family every two weeks. Nonetheless, in a few weeks the family completely falls apart. The four older boys defy and test their mother, behave irrationally and succumb to superstition. Then things get worse. Ultimately two of the si ...more
Jun 07, 2019 rated it liked it
“Hatred is a leech: The thing that sticks to a person's skin; that feeds off them and drains the sap out of one's spirit. It changes a person, and does not leave until it has sucked the last drop of peace from them.”

The year 1958 was a monumental one in the history of African literature, as a hitherto unknown writer Chinua Achebe brought forth a novel that lifted his community from the mires of humiliating colonial stereotyping, caricaturing and otherization and celebrated the deep roots of it
The things my brother read shaped him; they became his visions. He believed in them. I have now come to know that what one believes often becomes permanent, and what becomes permanent can be indestructible.

And it's not just Obembe. There's nary a one in the characters here who does not have the habit of mind of a believer: almost every one of them takes for granted that the supernatural is an integral part of daily life, a force to be propitiated and appeased, enjoined and coerced, exalted and a
Jan 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: africa, 2016
Nigeria is a hotbed of literature: Wole Soyinka and Chinua Achebe are from there, as well as recent hotshots like Chimamanda Adichie and now Chigozie Obioma, whose debut novel The Fishermen was shortlisted for the Man Booker prize. And for good reason: it's brilliant.

It tells the story of four brothers who battle fate, or a crazy guy, or Western influence - in an interview Obioma calls the book in part metaphorical, mad "prophet" Abulu representing outsider predictions of what young Nigeria will
David Dacosta
Jul 13, 2015 rated it liked it
Chigozie Obioma is another in a long line of talented African writers. As a fellow author, the artistry of his phrasing had me pondering how many rewrites it must have taken him to produce this stylized final product. The Fishermen skillfully examines the delicate dynamics of an African family living in Nigeria during the 1990s. Benjamin, the fourth of six children, narrates the story. His once stable household suddenly begins to unravel when his father must relocate to a distant township to sec ...more
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Chigozie Obioma was born in Akure, Nigeria. His debut novel, The Fishermen, is winner of the inaugural FT/Oppenheimer Award for Fiction, the NAACP Image Awards for Debut Literary Work, and the Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction (Los Angeles Times Book Prizes); and was a finalist for the Man Booker Prize 2015, as well as for several other prizes in the US and UK. Obioma was named one of Foreign ...more

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140 likes · 35 comments
“Hatred is a leech: The thing that sticks to a person's skin; that feeds off them and drains the sap out of one's spirit. It changes a person, and does not leave until it has sucked the last drop of peace from them.” 36 likes
“The things my brother read shaped him; they became his visions. He believed in them. I have now come to know that what one believes often becomes permanent, and what becomes permanent can be indestructible. This was the case with my brother.” 23 likes
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