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An Orchestra of Minorities

3.74  ·  Rating details ·  325 ratings  ·  92 reviews
A heart-breaking and mythic story about a Nigerian poultry farmer who sacrifices everything to win the woman he loves, by Man Booker Finalist and author of The Fishermen, Chigozie Obioma.

A contemporary twist on the Odyssey, An Orchestra of Minorities is narrated by the chi, or spirit of a young poultry farmer named Chinonso. His life is set off course when he sees a woman
Hardcover, 464 pages
Published January 8th 2019 by Little, Brown and Company
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3.74  · 
Rating details
 ·  325 ratings  ·  92 reviews

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Emily May
Nov 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: arc, modern-lit, 2018
Agbatta-Alumalu, the fathers of old say that without light, a person cannot sprout shadows. My host fell in love with this woman. She came as a strange, sudden light that caused shadows to spring from everything else.

Wow. How do I even begin to review this book? All words seem inadequate. It is exceptional. It is beautiful. And it is unlike anything I've ever read before.

It's challenging, too. I don't want to sell it to readers who won't like it. It's a clever and dense literary work, heavily
If the prey do not produce their version of the tale, the predators will always be the heroes in the story of the hunt, says the quotation which opens this unusual and beautiful novel; and indeed, we come to understand that the "minorities" in its title are the prey, so often voiceless, who are now precariously recovering their ability to bear witness. I like this attitude. I like to hear about people who have been trampled on by history but fought back. Recently, I have read Sofi Oksanen's When ...more
Jun 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Based upon Nigerian Igbo beliefs, each being has a "chi", a guardian spirit. A chi has gone through many cycles of reincarnation and is familiar with earthy challenges. In the present cycle of life, Chinonso Solomon Olisa is a host. His chi, the book's commentator, tries to intercede, to testify to Chukwu (Creator of All), that Nonso has committed a grave crime, but unknowingly.

Nonso was a man of silence. He felt total emptiness and perpetual loneliness. His father died leaving him in charge of
Brenda - Traveling Sister
Jan 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
An Orchestra of Minorities is a very original story and very different from anything I have read. It’s a rich, complex tale about love, sacrifice and misfortune. The story is narrated by our main character Chinonso’s Chi, a guardian spirit. The Chi guides him and us through the story. The Chi presence, warm kindness and concern give the story a heartwarming feel through the heartbreaking parts in the story.

An Orchestra of Minorities is a complex and beautifully emotionally written story yet chal
Jun 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a beautifully written story, a love story, an odyssey, and ultimately a tragedy. Set in Umuahi, Nigeria and Cyprus, it is the life story of Chinonso Solomon Olisa, a young poultry farmer who falls in love with a beautiful young woman far above him in class. In order to marry her, he sells everything he owns so that he might get a college education but things go horribly wrong for him, one after another.

What makes this story so unusual is that it is narrated by Chinonso's 'chi' or guardia
Jan 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Symphony of the thousand natural shocks [t]hat flesh is heir to. "Hamlet"*

This is a superbly written, expertly structured, often captivating, One Hundred Eighty Proof Tragedy, Through and Through, for which it may suffer in GR ratings. Which is too bad, because it is an intelligent and particularly unique, heart-bruising novel which will make each longlist and likely be shortlisted later this year.

Describing the story in much detail may well trash the tragedian effects, but I think it's okay to
Jessica Woodbury
Apr 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
I kept half-joking as I read this book that I was bracing myself for the surely terrible things that were to come. I read THE FISHERMEN, a beautiful gut-punch of a book, and while I didn't approach Obioma's second novel with trepidation I did approach with caution. Sure enough, this is another book where some pretty terrible things happen. (FYI avoid the marketing copy on this one, yes including the Goodreads summary, which on its own takes you through like 60% of the plot.)

In style, at least, t
Victoria Iyene
Oct 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is probably the most powerful and inventive book I have read in my life. The only possible comparison to the breadth and power of this book is Salman Rushdie's Midnight's Children. The symphonic power, the radiance of the language, and the invention of an entire cosmos is simply, for lack of a better word, astounding.

The novel is in its entirety a confession by a spirit--a personal god in the Igbo culture (I'm Nigerian, and from the East but not from the Igbo tribe). This god is embodied in
Jan 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An Orchestra of Minorities, Man Booker Shortlisted Chigozie Obioma's second novel, is a powerful cry for justice from main character Chinonso. From the first page right through to the last I was utterly riveted and read the entire book in a single intense sitting. Beautifully written and wholly absorbing, it is a successful contemporary twist on Homer's Odyssey and shows how masterful Obioma is when he can take familiar tropes and put a completely different spin on them; his own unique spin.

Jan 03, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019, netgalley
Right from the start of An Orchestra of Minorities we know the main character Nonso, a humble poultry farmer, has done something very bad but we don’t yet know what it is. His ‘chi’, a sort of guardian spirit, is interceding with the Igbo deity on Nonso’s behalf, and this chi narrates the tale of Nonso’s downfall like a courtroom lawyer stating his case for the defence. What gradually unfolds is a love story and a tragedy shot through with Igbo cosmology and tradition.

Nonso the chicken guy meets
Dec 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing

After trying for so long, I finally got my hands on the novel!! As anyone who has seen my posts know, I loved THE FISHERMEN and believe Obioma is probably one of the top 5 greatest writers writing right now. He is doing what no one else is doing, and were this writer European or American, he would be better celebrated. I'm trying to develop a career around studying the works of this great writer.

An Orchestra of Minorities is a cosmic novel, magic realist, but
Feb 01, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: fiction
Beautiful writing and interesting philosophy totally wasted on a book that doesn't think of women as people. Nothing but a litany of excuses for a man's violence being let loose on a woman he supposedly loves. Every terrible wrong in his life, of which she was not actor or creator, being brought to her door.

This is nature.

This is how a man is.

This is what a man does.

On & on & on not questioning, not pushing, not offering a different vision of the world. Sexual violence against the mal
Jan 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019, africa
“Oh God! Nonso, they are! It is like a coordinated song, the kind they sing during burial ceremonies. Like a choir. And what they are singing is a song of sorrow. Just listen, Nonso.” She stood silent for a moment, then she stepped back a bit and snapped her fingers. “It is true what your father said. It is an orchestra of minorities.”

An Orchestra of Minorities is a remarkable book: in the tradition of Things Fall Apart, it tells a Nigerian's story in a blend of Igbo and Western European techn
Tamara Agha-Jaffar
An Orchestra of Minorities by Chigozie Obioma is a gripping love story with tragic consequences.

Chinonso Solomon Olisa is a humble chicken farmer with a gentle spirit and compassionate heart. He leads a quiet, uneventful life, nurturing his chickens and goslings with tenderness and empathy. Through a chance encounter, he meets Ndali, the daughter of an affluent chief. They fall passionately in love. Their relationship is met with vehement opposition from her family. Humiliated by their rejectio
Jan 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is a grim, sad story, made bearable by Obioma’s rather stately writing and his use of the protagonist’s chi, a spirit character in Igbo cosmology, to relate the story of our good-hearted chicken farmer. The book could have been tighter, and the last fourth felt draggy and repetitive, but I was so invested in the story and characters by then that there was no way I was quitting. The audio narration is excellent and enhances the feeling that you’re listening to an oral tale.
Jan 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
thoughts coming shortly
Feb 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
This is a dense read that may intimidate a lot of readers, and it took a while to get a feel for it, but I ultimately found a clever, fascinating story. More to come.
Abbie | ab_reads
Thank you @littlebrown for providing me a copy of this one to review - unfortunately, despite my high hopes having loved The Fishermen, An Orchestra of Minorities was not the book for me.
I don’t really feel equipped to designate this book a star rating, especially since I freely admit to just skim reading the last 150 pages or so, because I was getting too fed up. While it’s rich in Igbo history and cosmology, I found the narrative plodding and repetitive. It was an interesting concept to have
Is the sacrifice, no matter how big or necessary, for you or for them?
Think about that, before and after you read one of my favorite books of all time.
Sep 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow! Although I read this book a few months ago. I have finally got around to crafting some words which I hope testify to my enthusiasm even months after completing this fine work. The fact I can still “feel” this book this is a testament to the strong writing, which I noted as magnetic, makes this January release already a contender for best fiction of 2019! An Andre Ace perhaps. This novel is very different and it is narrated by the chi( the life force in Igbo spiritual systems) of protagonist ...more
Tom Evans
Jan 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019
This was a book I had no idea what to expect as I began, but I was quickly absorbed by its mysticism and unique writing style as part of the Igbo, Indigenous African tradition, from the first few chapters and sustained throughout.

Obioma left me engrossed by a unique and memorable protagonist who finds himself a poor poultry farmer chasing the illustrious woman never quite within his reach. Narrated through his chi, essentially his spirit that watches over him, an epic tale unfolds of the power o
Carol Kean
Aug 11, 2018 rated it liked it
Brilliant narrative, with riveting prose, a fresh, original voice, a fascinating perspective: the "chi" or spirit co-habiting a human's body is aware of the human soul, but the human is unaware of the chi. Sometimes the chi tries to warn the human of danger or inspire him to take a lucrative course of action, and sometimes the human follows "intuition" to stay out of trouble or go after that girl and win her over.

The human in this story is a bitter man with an attitude. At 30, he hires his first
Robert Sheard
Feb 20, 2019 rated it liked it
The main story is interesting, with elements of Homer's Odyssey at work, and elements that are reminiscent of Shakespeare's major tragedies. But the frame tale, based on Igbo cosmology, gets imbalanced for me. The novel could have been at least 100 pages shorter and just as effective had he vastly trimmed the mythology/folklore/philosophy ramblings. After 300 pages, I was ready to be finished, and it still had another 150 pages to go.
Jan 03, 2019 marked it as did-not-finish
So 2019 is off to a roaring start! I adored Obioma's first novel, so much, but I had to DNF this. I was so tired of the narrator philosophizing about Chinonso's circumstances, rather than just telling the damn story. I get that that is the point - his chi was attempting to save him from damnation by explaining the situation that led to why he deserved to basically go to hell. But nearly every paragraph started with an invocation of a different deities and explaining "ah yes this is part of the c ...more
Lucas Brandl
Jan 20, 2019 rated it liked it
An Orchestra of Minorities will definitely be one of the most unforgettable and haunting plots I read all year. I don't think it is giving anything away to say that the main character of Chinonso has had horrible things done to him, and as a result does horrible things.

The book is narrated by Chinonso's chi, who is trying to explain to the spirit world how he got to where he got. I liked this device. I've never seen it used before, and it created an interesting twist on a standard first or thir
This wasn’t for me. It’s probably my last attempt with this author. I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.
Diane B
Feb 10, 2019 rated it liked it
It looks like I'm in the minority on this one. It's an interesting, original concept and a well-told story and I enjoyed diving into Igbo culture. But for me the spiritual sections could have been cut right back. By the end I was skipping through them to get to the story. I'm also not sure I agree with some of the women reviewing here. I think you can write about a violent, sometimes psychotic, creepy character without it necessarily being a misogynistic book. For me, the stories of the violent ...more
Dec 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book includes some of the most gorgeous, powerful passages I’ve read in long time, and the image associated with the title is absolutely heart wrenching. It will stay with me for a long time.

The narration comes from the main character’s chi who is relating the events in question as a plea to the heavens for leniency in judgement. The nature of the main character’s offense and the road that leads him there create the storyline.

While it seems to be slow going in places, the book builds in la
Joshunda Sanders
Nov 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A truly epic novel about love, deceit, betrayal and resilience steeped in African spirituality. The character’s voices are rich and vivid, as is their switching back and forth between Igbo & English — the language of the fathers versus the White Man’s language. Romance and the salvation one offers another under the auspices of loving come into play here in both light and dark ways. Class considerations and pursuits are rendered carefully to move the plot and the protagonist, Chinonso, forwar ...more
This is a heartbreaking story of a young Nigerian man who falls in love, and in an attempt to better himself for a future with his beloved, is cheated out of everything he owns. The story is imaginatively told by the man’s chi, an inner spirit, which gives a uniquely African element to the story. The chi enlightens the reader on what is happening in the present as well as what has happened in the past when it occupied other bodies.

I learned much about Nigeria, the culture of it and Cyprus, spir
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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
“By that time, already, his life as he once knew it had separated from him like an ill-fated shadow hewn from its bearer and thrown over the cliff into a bottomless pit of oblivion, and even through all these years, he could still hear its dark voice screaming as it continued its fall.” 0 likes
“the fathers of old say that without light, a person cannot sprout shadows. This woman came as a strange, sudden light that caused shadows to spring from everything else.” 0 likes
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