Chigozie Obioma: An Orchestra of Minorities



Chigozie Obioma ä 2 Free ead

Ob when it comes to describing the importance of personal dignity for the human soul Again and again Chinonso is confronted with degradation and cruelty and he desperately tries to overcome or at least psychologically deal with it In Nigeria Ndali s family of social climbers does not grant him the espect he deserves for being a farmer a sentiment which he internalizes in Cyprus he is a black foreigner who gets caught up in the system thus the book also touches upon the experiences of African immigrants It is certainly no coincidence that Chinonso travels to Northern Cyprus not the Republic of Cyprus Not only did the author eally meet a fellow Nigerian man in Northern Cyprus whose destiny inspired him to write this book Chinonso also strands ight at the border of the EU but cannot cross into it only the Republic of Cyprus is a member state Chinonso s travels are very loosely based on The Odyssey but will Ndali his Penelope wait for him What sets Obioma s book apart from the classic European tale is among other things the narrator We hear the whole story from the point of view of Chinonso s chi his guardian spirit which stands at the center of Igbo cosmological belief The author has explained that he wanted to challenge the Western conception of agency His book s central character has only limited agency because the chi points to the dimension of destiny beyond human control This is certainly a fascinating narrative concept especially for Westerners like me who are largely unfamiliar with Igbo culture but to my ears the very particular voice of the chi which freuently breaks the narrative flow by uttering ather long general philosophical musings was sometimes a little hard to bear especially the elentless epetition of its signature sentence I have seen it many times I admit that at some point I wanted to slap Chinonso s chi for epeating this one sentence over and over and over again On the other hand Obioma intended to break with Western traditions of writing so there is certainly the factor of Western eaders struggling with his approach that influences the eading experience and that absolutely can t be held against the author As the story progresses it becomes clear why the chi insists on giving us all and I mean ALL the details about its host Chinonso and what happened to him but guys this is one looooooooooong book that outstays its welcome if it was shorter I m sure it would have a higher impact The topic of dignity is one of the most urgent in our current political climate it is at the core of uestions like migration the culture wars identity politics etc Chinonso is just one member of the Orchestra of Minorities which is made up by millions of people worldwide who have to fight for their dignity So I eally wish I could have loved this novel but ultimately it buried an urgent topic under too many words Based upon Nigerian Igbo beliefs each being has a chi a guardian spirit A chi has gone through many cycles of eincarnation 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 unknowinglyNonso was a man of silence He felt total emptiness and perpetual loneliness His father died leaving him in charge of their poultry farm His pet gosling died through an act of evenge performed by catapulting a stone Raising fowl suited Nonso These domestic creatures were weak animals and he enjoyed ministering to them On the way home from market with a new flock his comrades in his truck he witnessed a young woman scaling a bridge over the Amatu River planning her demise Nonso instantly eacted by throwing two of his chickens from the bridge to show her what would happen if she jumped He talked her down after all he understood despair His chi suggested he proceed home In etrospect Nonso felt he hadn t done enough to help her A chance meetinga connectionlon. F his prized chickens off the bridge The woman Ndali is stopped in her tracksChinonso and Ndali fall in love but she is from an educated and wealthy family When her family objects to the union on the grounds that he is not her social eual he sells most of his pos.

Ely uneducated farmer meets girl of his dreamshighly educated Ndali Obialor feels truly cherishedit s love Ndali and her family live in a mansion with marble floors Ndali however has a mind of her own Chi is worried that the budding love between Nonso and Ndali will make Nonso disregard his counsel In order to be worthy of Ndali but against her wishes and protests Nonso leaves his poultry farm in Nigeria and travels to north Cyprus seeking higher education and lifestyle change in the name of loveNonso s chi s testimony to Chukwu includes a ecounting of Nonso s trials and tribulations in his uest for betterment Chi explains that although as a spirit being he left his host s body in search of consultation to benefit his host he could not interfere We should allow man to execute his will and be manAn Orchestra of Minorities by Chigozie Obioma left me speechless breathless and filled with awe The prose in this work of magical ealism was superb I slowly savored this emarkable yet harsh and devastating tale I highly ecommend this bookThank you Little Brown and Company and Net Galley for the opportunity to ead and eview An Orchestra of Minorities A story should glide like a yacht not bump along like a supermarket trolley MeHaving seen a profusion of apturous eviews for this African tale I had very high hopes And what a gorgeous title too I was beguiled and eady to be seduced Let me at it I criedHurrr rr chh A screech of brakes or a needle skidding on vinylAlas I just didn t take to it I know I m a fusspot but I eally didn t warm to it And for that I m truly sorryThe omniscient narrator a guardian spirit waffled on in a simplistic writing style that had me olling my eyes and wishing we could bring a esuscitation team of literary greats back from the dead The first few chapters were all exposition and there was nothing here that esembled an actual story Our ethereal narrator kept epeating I had seen it many times To which I etorted Yes you ve said it many times too you insufferable parrotAnd elaxNamasteSo while the cosmic blather continued with little sign of anything esembling dialogue or human interaction on the horizon I shimmied into a lifebuoy and prepared to jump ship Happily a story began to emerge And a very promising one at that a tale of Nonso Olisa an ill starred Nigerian poultry farmer who falls in love with a woman who as a esult of being jilted was intent on throwing herself off a bridgeAh ha That s like it I cheered casting off my lifebuoy and getting myself nice and comfyAuspiciously the author began to move through his literary gears fashioning a contemporary Greek tragedy that suggested it might finally live up to its star billing and what eventually happens to our unworldly chicken farmer when he elocates to Cyprus is a complete volte face from the book s uneventful opening chapters The scene was set and I was eady to give it a second chanceBut d oh Again with the exposition Chigozie Obiama snatches defeat from the jaws of victory by eintroducing yet explanatory notes groan that are surely surplus to euirements There s a potentially moving human story here that needs to be told A thorough edit and word cull would have done this novel a power of good The story continued to advance like a slug through treacle and despite his terrible woes I lost all sympathy for the hapless main character he was largely the architect of his own downfall I ooted for Ndali the lady from the bridge much The pacing throughout emained leaden and I eally struggled to get to the finishing line In my humble opinion Salman Rushdie Midnight s Children and Gabriel Garc a M uez One Hundred Years of Solitude do first person and third person narrative storytelling so much better But as you can see by its plethora of laudatory eviews Chigozie Obiama s book delights a great many of his eaders so I m almost certain you should take what I ve said with a pinch of salt and dive ight inHave a lifebuoy eady though just in cas. Sessions to attend college in Cyprus But when he arrives in Cyprus he discovers that he has been utterly duped by the young Nigerian who has made the arrangements for him Penniless homeless we watch as he gets further and further away from his dream and from home.

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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 anotherWhat makes this story so unusual is that it is narrated by Chinonso s chi or guardian spirit who has gone before the ancient god of many names to explain Chinonso s actions so that he won t be judged too harshly The title An Orchestra of Minorities comes up many times in the story the first and to me the most touching of these is when Chinonso explains to his love Ndali Obialor that the chickens sing a song of mourning for the one among their flock who has gone in this case taken by a hawk His father always called that an orchestra of minorities He was always saying the chickens know that is all they can do crying and making the sound ukuuukuu Ukuuukuu But this elates so well to Chinonso s own life who often finds he has no power over circumstances as they unfold as have so many others like him throughout history All who have been chained and beaten whose lands have been plundered whose civilizations have been destroyed who have been silenced beaten aped plundered shamed and killed With all these people he d come to share a common fate They were the minorities of this world whose ecourse was to join the universal orchestra in which all there is to do is cry and wail This is not an easy ead There is plenty of foreshadowing by the chi to let the eader know this won t have a happy ending And the characters are only seen through the spirit s observations so there are naturally limitations to the full development of characterizations I tend to give high marks for inventive writing The book that this eminds me most of is Lincoln in the Bardo another highly inventive novel so if you loved that book as I did I can ecommend this book to you Of course comparison to the story of The Odyssey comes up often in this story but in that ancient tale his true love waits for her husband s eturn I ve ead several interviews with Chigozie Obioma about his new book and saw this uote he posted on Instagram that you might find interesting The inspiration for An Orchestra of Minorities came when I went to the Turkish Republic of Cyprus in 2007 for college At the time I was one of very few African or black people on the island I was the only one who wasn t Turkish in my class Jay a young Nigerian man who had ecently been deported from Germany came a year later and his travails and eventual death inspired the character of Chinonso I eceived an arc from the publisher via NetGalley for my honest eview I m very grateful for the opportunity Anti hero CheckDramatic irony CheckHomer s Odyssey Not so much All who have been chained and beaten whose lands have been plundered whose civilizations have been destroyed who have been silenced aped shamed and killed With all these people he d come to share a common fate They were the minorities of this world whose only ecourse was to join this universal orchestra in which all there was to do was cry and wail Now Shortlisted for the Booker Prize 2019I feel torn between the considerable merit of this tale about the loss of dignity and the fact that I had a very hard time finishing the book because of its epetitiveness and its excessive love for overly detailed descriptions For what it has to say this novel is at least 200 pages too long Obioma tells the story of Chinonso a young Nigerian poultry farmer who falls in love with Ndali a student of pharmacy Ndali s family does not accept Chinonso because of his lack of education so he sells all of his belongings in order to travel to Northern Cyprus he was told that he could get a college degree there But things do not turn out as planned Obioma does a fantastic 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 who is about to jump off a bridge Horrified by her ecklessness he hurls two

Chigozie Obioma was born in Akure Nigeria His debut novel The Fishermen is winner of the inaugural FTOppenheimer 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