Review: Beasts of No Nation

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Beasts of No Nation
Beasts of No Nation by Uzodinma Iweala
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I am amazed how young this author is. How could a debut novel by a twenty-something be this powerful? Telling the story of war from a child soldier’s perspective is difficult, but not groundbreaking. What he brings to the table is the jarring, eerie language. The simplified vocabulary, onomatopoeia, stilted grammar, and repeated words peel back the “language layer” of the narrative to reveal the depth of possibilities underneath. At first I thought the author chose to write a story from the point of view of a child, or a non-native English speaker, or an accented voice. It becomes apparent very quickly that that is not the case. Instead, the author writes “he fired the gun” as “I am seeing he fire fire the gun into bush.” This violent staccato cadence adds a sense of unease to an already fiery atmosphere that sweeps the reader into the raw reality of a third-world battle scene. It feels almost as if he is writing sensations of the reptilian brain straight to the page with no broody, explanatory processing typical of a war novel.

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Victor A. Davis has always loved reading and writing short stories. He is an avid hiker and even when away from the world of laptops and wifi, keeps a pocket paperback and a handwritten journal to keep him company on trail. He is the author of two short story collections, Grains of Sand and The Gingerbread Collection. Join his Mailing List for special announcements about upcoming works.