Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Born on a Tuesday” as Want to Read:
Born on a Tuesday
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Born on a Tuesday

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  1,077 ratings  ·  187 reviews
From two-time Caine Prize finalist Elnathan John, a dynamic young voice from Nigeria, Born on a Tuesday is a stirring, starkly rendered first novel about a young boy struggling to find his place in a society that is fracturing along religious and political lines.

In far northwestern Nigeria, Dantala lives among a gang of street boys who sleep under a kuka tree. During the e
Paperback, 256 pages
Published May 3rd 2016 by Grove Press, Black Cat (first published 2015)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Born on a Tuesday, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Born on a Tuesday

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.03  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,077 ratings  ·  187 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Born on a Tuesday
Elyse  Walters
Dec 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley
After reading "Born on Tuesday", debut novel, by Elnathan John, I was so impressed
with this story, that I wanted to know more about Elnathan John himself.

I found a page 'About' ELNATHAN JOHN, on the Internet. ( handsome guy with intelligent looking eyes as though he is looking straight through people's soul)
"My first instinct is to wonder why you are browsing boring pages like mine when there is work to be done saving the world, rescuing a lion from being shot in Zimbabwe,
Nov 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
I can’t say that I enjoyed reading Born on a Tuesday, but I’m certainly glad I read it. Set in contemporary Nigeria, this book is told from Dantala’s perspective – Dantala literally means “born on a Tuesday” in his parent’s language. He comes from a small village of extreme poverty. His parents sent him away to a town school to learn Arabic. He gets caught up in some violence, and ends up being taken in by a leader at a mosque. The politics within and outside the mosque are very fractured and co ...more
Brown Girl Reading
Aug 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Brown Girl Reading by: African Literature - Nigerian
Born on a Tuesday opens following a gang of street boys, who are hanging in the streets and getting up to no good. They spend time smoking wee wee, pillaging, committing random acts of violence and even murder. We are introduced to the main character, Dantala, “born on a Tuesday”, alias Ahmad. His poignant first person voice recounts his coming of age story in northern Nigeria. For more.... ...more
Book Riot Community
I think that in a couple of years this novel is going to be on a lot of African Lit 101 syllabuses. The novel takes place in Sokoto State in northwestern Nigeria and is an exploration of the rise of fundamentalist groups (both violent and non-violent) in that region. Told as the coming of age story of Dantala (meaning “born on a tuesday”) or Ahmed, as he is later named, it reminded me a lot of Ahmadou Kourouma’s Allah is Not Obliged in its tone and themes. Troubling but beautiful.

–Bronwyn Averet
Paul Fulcher
"Then Malam Abdul-Nur speaks, holding up his right palm like a slate, turning between me and Sheikh. 'But Dantala ... Dantala is not a name. To say someone was born on a Tueaday, is that a name? A name should have meaning. Like Ahmad, the name of the prophet, sallallahu alaihi wasallam. You should stop using that Dantala."

Elnathan John's Born on a Tuesday was published by the Nigerian based Cassava Republic Press, publisher also of the Goldsmiths Prize shortlisted Like a Mule Bringing Ice Cream
Jul 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm shook. I don't even know where to begin...
Elnathan managed to capture life in northern Nigeria so vividly that it hurts.
I don't know how to review this yet. I've never read a novel like this before and I'm immensely impressed and distressed at the same time. I wish I had read this when Elnathan did his reading here in Accra, so I could have asked him the MANY questions worrying me right now.
Excellent novel. Should be required reading for courses on Islam in northern Nigeria.
Sep 18, 2017 added it
Shelves: university
10/10 Last Year's Novels/ Contemporary Lit Module ...more
Jun 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing

With sweeping themes like poverty, mob violence, army brutality, religious indoctrination and intolerance, corruption and love, Elnathan John’s debut novel is an ambitious story told in enchantingly simple language through the voice of our lovable protagonist, Dantala, who is equal parts, innocence, religious fervor, intelligence and youthful curiosity.

Born on a Tuesday opens under a Kuka tree in Bayan Layi, a small town in Kaduna, in northern Nigeria. The boys under the tree smoke wee-wee (a hi
Wow. This is a very powerful book. A vicious, bitter look, and a Bildungsroman, in northern (Hausa) Nigeria in the age of Jihad. HIghly recommended.
Stark and compelling -- I won't forget Dantala's harrowing journey to manhood anytime soon. ...more
Rori Raquib
This was hard to read but probably for all the right reasons. We see the world through the eyes of Dantala, a young man growing up in Nigeria's volatile political environment while navigating the various Islamic sects.

I'm not squeamish but some of the passages in this stunned me with their violence. But this was balanced with a really raw, honest perspective of emotions, relationships, faith and the body. That said, I found it hard to get past the very plain style at first. It took a while to r
Feb 20, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017-rofc, 2017
In northwestern Nigeria, an intelligent young man grows up in the midst of political and religious mayhem and violence. At times violent, at times funny, at times poetic, this is a powerful tale. For westerners like me, often all we hear of Nigeria is news reports of Boko Haram and this gives us another view "behind the scenes" of life (and death) in this country. It’s not for the faint-hearted.

The writing is not complicated. In fact, it is deceptively simple. And the story is one that gradually
Gumble's Yard
Jan 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
The book opens with Dantala (born on a Tuesday) a Quaranic student having fallen in with a gang of street boys and getting caught up in political riots in 2003 when he attacks an opposition political party’s headquarters, sees his close friend shot and himself participates in a killing.

Fleeing to another North Nigerian town (Sokoto) he meets a religious leader and organiser Sheikh Jamal and joins his movement, where he befriends Jibril, the brother of Jamal’s more radical advisor Malam Abdul-Nu
Feb 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Muslim character, books about religious fundamentalism, coming of age stories,

wow. just wow.

Honestly, this book is one of those unsuspecting books that you just read not thinking much but then it gets to a point and everything just HITS YOU AND YOU'RE LIKE WTF THIS IS AMAZING OMG I LOVE THIS SHOW MUCH WOW and then the end is just a huge slap in the face and you're like WHY WOULD YOU DO THIS TO ME?!

so it is about a boy called Dantala which (view spoiler)

Anyways so he ends up chan
Jerome Kuseh
Jul 03, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: african
Elnathan's novel is mostly set in Sokoto in Northern Nigeria and tells the story of Ahmad, a young man taken under the tutelage of a sheikh and who finds himself in the midst of the political and religious violence that grips parts of his homeland.

BOAT is well-researched. It contains an extensive insight into Islamic theology and factionalism, political corruption, terrorist activities and human right abuses by security services. Elnathan also gives us a glimpse of everyday life in Northern Nig
Joanne Harris
A tough, topical, directly-written book, devoid of sentimentality, and yet engaging, troubling, sad. The sense of place is wholly immersive, conjuring the villages and roads of troubled Nigeria with a deft and effortless touch. The narrator's voice is youthful, naive, but with that touch of experience that makes the whole thing so plausible, with no easy answers or preaching, simply a deep compassion for the things people do to each other, and why. The phrase "Allah knows what is in my heart"ret ...more
Sep 15, 2017 added it
Shelves: university
9/10 for 'Last Year's Novels' module. ...more
Wathingira Gituro
Aug 11, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The simplicity of the writing of novel lulls you into a false sense of security... tricking you to lower your guard and fall in with the gentle ebb and flow of the story. Your gut tells you things aren't as simple as they seem - it can't end well, but the almost nonchalant way the narrator pulls you along makes you push those doubts away. Until you get to the end and you wake up and are like wait... what!?

Yes, this book is THAT good!

I was so thoroughly transported into Dantala's (the narrator's)
Nov 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love this book so much. If you want an insight into Northern Nigeria and contemporary Muslim issues, this is the book for you.
Salem Lorot
Apr 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
A few months ago, Elnathan John came to Nairobi and that evening, at Goethe Institut, I just sat and listened to him. To his right was my friend and 'banker-who-writes', Kinyanjui Kombani. The moderator was James Murua. The odd thing was that I had not read 'Born on a Tuesday'. So I just sat, absorbing the discussion, getting to hear about Dantala and question about fire in the book. And Elnathan read a passage on food and sugarcane and how the last piece of sugarcane is the most important. Just ...more
Mar 04, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Such a good book. Dantala ("born on a Tuesday"), from Northern Nigeria, goes from being a Quranic student to being part of a street gang, until a Malam from the local mosque takes him in. Growing up in the Mosque, Dantala / Ahmad witnesses the conflicts between Sunnis and Shia, between those who want peace and those promoting Jihad, between the people and the police, having to grow up making choices about who to be and who to follow. Not a hopeful story, but a necessary one.

"But then Umma used t
Jul 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
I'm happy I read this book. It's a coming of age story of Dantala's life growing up in Nigeria, told in his voice. I enjoyed the narrator's as a matter-of-fact way of telling his story. There is hope, love, violence, regret, shame....there is humanity. ...more
Patrice Hoffman
Oct 08, 2018 rated it liked it
A full review to follow but I read this for my Non-western Literature class and I enjoyed it enough. It really is an inspiring coming of age story that is quite gritty and jarring.

Full review to follow.
Chinenye Ikwueme
Dec 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
One thing is certain, after reading this debut novel chimamanda would never call him 'my boy'. Another beautiful woven story by a Nigerian writer. ...more
Sami Tunji
May 31, 2016 rated it really liked it
Quite awesome. The story started with the horror of violence and through a rich and refreshing voice ends with the horror of violence, a kind of cyclic gloom that is inevitable.
Aug 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Very gripping and entertaining.
Sober look at the conflict in Northern Nigeria, Islam, poverty, radicalism through the eyes of a growing child.
Elite Group
May 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
A story of moral conflict and bravery in a corrupt and unstable society

A fascinating and sometimes upsetting coming of age tale set in war-torn Nigeria, Born on a Tuesday tells the story of young Ahmad - or Dantala, as he is nicknamed, which literally means 'born on a Tuesday' - and the first few years of his adult life amongst a background of religious fanaticism, violence and political betrayal. The tale is written in Dantala's own words and starts with him living outside under a tree with a g
Kathleen Gray
Apr 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
John has brought Dantala and his communities to life in this beautifully and sensitively written novel. I especially appreciated the opportunity to learn more about the situation in northern Nigeria, an area about which we read very little except when there is an incident such as the kidnapping of girls by Boko Haram. Recommend this if you are interested in coming of age stories in cultures which are less familiar to us in the US. Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC. I think John has a bright futur ...more
Jun 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Elnathan John provides a fascinating insight into the culture of contemporary Nigeria and its religious and political upheaval through the coming of age story of a young man named Dentala. The main characters are well developed and the story is both thought provoking and enlightening. While some of the passages are really disturbing, it was well worth the read. This book will stick with you long after you have finished it.
Nana Fredua-Agyeman
This book is very interesting. Its about the development of religious struggle and the underlying politics and their effects on the lives of the ordinary people. It could easy have become a 'pity party' but John handled and controlled the story so well that you will feel a part of the story, see exactly what is going on. The story is realistic and not 'overdone'.

I will love to read more from this author.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Secret Lives of Baba Segi's Wives
  • I Do Not Come to You by Chance
  • Daughters Who Walk This Path
  • Season of Crimson Blossoms
  • Easy Motion Tourist
  • Welcome to Lagos
  • The Hairdresser of Harare
  • Zikora
  • Everything Good Will Come
  • The Hundred Wells of Salaga
  • Blackass
  • The Spider King's Daughter
  • The Fishermen
  • Happiness, Like Water
  • On Black Sisters Street
  • Second Class Citizen
  • The Smart Money Woman
  • Under the Udala Trees
See similar books…
Elnathan is a writer and lawyer living in spaces between in Nigeria and Germany. Mostly.

His works have appeared in Hazlitt, Per Contra, Le Monde Diplomatique, FT and the Caine Prize for African Writing anthology 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016. He writes weekly political satire for the Nigerian newspaper Daily Trust on Sunday (and any other publication that PAYS him). Except you are The New Yorker, he

News & Interviews

  Die-hard mystery fans are always on the hunt for their next supremely satisfying whodunit. To help you stock that Want to Read shelf, we asked...
52 likes · 22 comments
“Something that has no roots and springs up with leaves and branches everywhere is bound to crash from the weight” 1 likes
“Women can be very annoying. Sometimes they are very nice and they make you stay up all night thinking about them, unable to breathe because you feel your heart wanting to jump out of your chest. Other times they act as if the world is theirs to take, as if men were made to fulfil their every need.” 1 likes
More quotes…