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Song for Night [Paperback]

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Item description for Song for Night by Christopher Abani...

My Luck, a West African boy solider who has not spoken for three years, fights in a senseless war and embarks on a terrifying yet beautiful journey to find his lost platoon.

Publishers Description

"Not since Jerzy Kosinski’s The Painted Bird or Agota Kristof’s Notebook Trilogy has there been such a harrowing novel about what it’s like to be a young person in a war. That Chris Abani is able to find humanity, mercy, and even, yes, forgiveness, amid such devastation is something of a miracle.”—Rebecca Brown, author of The End of Youth

"The moment you enter these pages, you step into a beautiful and terrifying dream. You are in the hands of a master, a literary shaman. Abani casts his spell so completely—so devastatingly—you emerge cleansed, redeemed, and utterly haunted."—Brad Kessler, author of Birds in Fall

Part Inferno, part Paradise Lost, and part Sunjiata epic, Song for Night is the story of a West African boy soldier’s lyrical, terrifying, yet beautiful journey through the nightmare landscape of a brutal war in search of his lost platoon. The reader is led by the voiceless protagonist who, as part of a land mine-clearing platoon, had his vocal chords cut, a move to keep these children from screaming when blown up, and thereby distracting the other minesweepers. The book is written in a ghostly voice, with each chapter headed by a line of the unique sign language these children invented. This book is unlike anything else ever written about an African war.

Chris Abani is a Nigerian poet and novelist and the author of The Virgin of Flames, Becoming Abigail (a New York Times Editor’s Choice), and GraceLand (a selection of the Today Show Book Club and winner of the 2005 PEN/Hemingway Prize and the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award). His other prizes include a PEN Freedom to Write Award, a Prince Claus Award, and a Lannan Literary Fellowship. He lives and teaches in California.

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Item Specifications...

Pages   164
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 0.75" Width: 5.25" Height: 8"
Weight:   0.45 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Sep 1, 2007
Publisher   Akashic Books
ISBN  1933354313  
ISBN13  9781933354316  

Availability  0 units.

More About Christopher Abani

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! CHRIS ABANI is the author of the acclaimed novels GraceLand, which was shortlisted for the Dublin International IMPAC Award and won the PEN/Hemingway Award, and The Virgin of the Flames, a New York Times Editors' Choice selection, as well as several collections of poetry. He is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, the PEN USA Open Book Award and PEN USA Freedom-to-Write Award, the Prince Claus Award, a Lannan Literary Fellowship, a California Book Award, a Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, and has three Pushcart nominations to his name. He was born in Nigeria and currently teaches at the University of California, Riverside.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > General > Contemporary
2Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > General > Literary
3Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > Genre Fiction > War
4Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > History & Criticism > Criticism & Theory > General
5Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > Poetry > General
6Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > World Literature > African > General
7Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > World Literature > United States > History & Criticism > Literary Theory

Reviews - What do customers think about Song for Night?

West African child soldier's tale  May 1, 2008
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 his sign language, e.g., "Silence is a Steady Hand, Palm Flat."
A Beautiful, Yet Haunting Serenade  Jan 8, 2008
Chris Abani turns the horrors and atrocities of war into a lyrical treasure in his novella, Song for Night. My Luck is a 15-year-old Igbo mine diffuser who is "simply fighting to survive the war." My Luck's struggle to survive forces him to commit unforgivable acts of war. He witnesses horrors that no adult, let alone a teenage boy, should see. He awakes one morning to find himself separated from his platoon. As he searches for his lost comrades, he is haunted by memories of his family, fellow soldiers and the innocent people that lost their lives to the war.

Abani's writing is poetic even though the verses are of war, death and suffering. Abani finds the light of childhood, love and innocence among the darkness of hate. Song for Night gives readers an up close and personal look at war from the eyes of a child soldier. Readers also get a glimpse of West African culture and beliefs as My Luck recalls his grandfather's stories. Song for Night is an excellent choice for those looking for a poignant tale of life, love and war that expands their reading horizons beyond mainstream literature.

Reviewed by M. P. McKinney
APOOO BookClub
A Literary Song  Dec 28, 2007
I am a graduate student at Goddard College and the author of Song For Night, Chris Abani, will be reading from one of his works at my next residency. That's why I picked up this book, and I was satified that my College choose Abani as a guest reader. I never spoil stories, so I'm going to talk about Abani's style as opposed to his content. He writes very beautifully in this book, with words and phrases that are poetic in their description, even when the event described is horrific. And make no mistakes, this is not a pleasant tale. The narrator of the story has lived through pretty much the worst that life has to offer. But this is not to say the story takes itself too seriously, or is over-dramatic. Abani's narrator simply states the facts from his perspective, and you never once suspect Abani of feeling like one section or another will "blow the reader's mind." This is admirable because I think to have that thought at all would remind a reader that they are reading, as opposed to being caught up in a story and experiencing it for themselves.
Abani use of language, his style of having a consistent voice whether the event transpiring is bombastic of contemplative, keeps this story strong and trustworthy. This book is worth reading by any adult, and will hopefully expand the global perspective of its reader. It did mine.
War From a Child's Vantage  Oct 9, 2007
In SONG FOR NIGHT author Chris Abani has achieved what few authors have even dared - relating the grisly aspects of war as seen through the eyes of a warrior child. The mixture of innocence and participation in some of the most gruesome details of war make this novel difficult to read, yet at the same time Abani's narrator, My Luck, is a young lad with whom we not only completely identify in his sharing of his experiences, but also grow to love profoundly. This small book is not only exquisitely crafted - it is a genuine and heartrending little masterpiece.

A West African war-torn nation (probably Abani's own Nigeria where he himself was the victim of the brutality of war) uses children as soldiers. My Luck is part of a small mine diffusing unit, a group of children who were placed in boot camp at age twelve and now at age fifteen are the delicate triggers that determine the presence of field mines, diffusing them, and gathering the then safe mines for weapons for their 'Major'. The children are 'treated' with a surgery that destroys their vocal cords, a brutal means of assuring that when one of the children steps on a live mine his voice will not cry out, signaling the presence of the war unit to the rebels. These mute young soldiers bond, lose each other, and do as they are instructed, creating a life of danger, terror and probable early death, all before they have had the luxury of growing into adults.

My Luck's narration begins as he is thrown in the air by a detonated mine, his fellow 'soldiers' and company believing him dead have left him unconscious in the dirt. My Luck's story is that of a search for his fellow soldiers, a search that triggers recollections of his childhood, his love for a young girl Ijeoma who is killed by a hidden mine, his recurring memories of his nurturing Catholic mother and his deeply religious Muslim father, his being forced by his commander to rape a woman to prove his manhood, his contact with his elders in visions, his perception of ghosts as his mind and body are starved for food, water, and safety, and his narrowly escaping his enemy's discovery by floating down a river of corpses. My Luck's vision of the world is at once conflicted with a sense of exhilaration that at times equates killing with orgasm. Yet as we follow his mute journey he enters our psyche the way few others characters drawn from the 'world as war' have gained our hearts. 'These are memories. Before we can move from here, we have to relive and release our darkness'.

Abani somehow manages to relate this grisly tale with such sensitive poetic form that he opens windows of light that illuminate both the essence of life and of death. 'Here we believe that when a person dies in a sudden and hard way, their spirit wanders confused looking for its body. Confused because they don't realize they are dead. I know this. Traditionally a shaman would ease such a spirit across to the other world. Now, well, the land is crowded with confused spirits and all the shamans are soldiers.' This is a brilliant little book by a gifted artist. Highly recommended. Grady Harp, October 07

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