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Allah Is Not Obliged [Paperback]

Ahmadou Kourouma
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
RRP: £8.99
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Book Description

2 Aug 2007

'The full, final and completely complete title of my bullshit story is:

Allah is not obliged to be fair about all things he does here on earth'

Birahima's story is one of horror and laughter. After his mother's death he travels to Liberia to find his aunt but on the way gets caught up in rebel fighting and ends up with a Kalashnikov in his hands. He tells of the chaotic and terrible adventures that follow in his career as a small soldier with heartbreaking bravado and wisdom.

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Allah Is Not Obliged + A Man of the People (Penguin Modern Classics)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (2 Aug 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099433923
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099433927
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.4 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 64,015 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"A work of luminous humanity" -- Michael Thompson-Noel Financial Times "it is a powerful, shocking and deeply moving novel, an African Lord of the Flies...Through Kourouma's skilful telling, the characters live on the page" -- Aminatta Forna Guardian "An exceptional storyteller" Independent "Allah is Not Obliged... deftly captures the mixture of horror, fascination and detachment with which a child views the world of grown-up folly" The Economist "Melding fiction and fact with the humility of childhood, Ahmadou Kourouma deftly exposes the desperate nature of the civil wars - and the relentless poverty - that have ravaged Africa, and brings the grandeur of gestures such as the G8 pledges into uncomfortably sharp relief" -- Sarak Birke New Statesman

Book Description

An extraordinarily powerful and affecting novel of Africa's child-soldiers, by French Africa's pre-eminent novelist, in the tradition of City of God.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good s**t 14 Dec 2006
Ahmadou Kharouma has created a thoroughly engaging character in Birahima our guide through Africa's wild west. He is like so many of the poor street children that pound Africa's streets doing their best to survive. He is a good kid, from a loving family, who do their best to protect him from the attractions of a life of crime.

Upon capture in Liberia where Birahima was going in search of his aunt with his village sorcerer, he is captured and joins the ranks of a group of child soldiers. He continues through Liberia and Sierra Leone joining the armies of a variety of power crazed war lords, each seemingly more insane than the previous. Documenting his personal experiences in a diary, he gives an often hilarious account of some of the most depraved, sadistic acts that anyone could imagine. These experiences no doubt helped to produce the colourful and vibrant voice that bursts from each page. Birahima's detached manner enables him to look objectively at the madness and contradictions that surround him and Africa in general.

It's a real slap in the face to Live 8's naive views that if we erradicate 3rd world debt, we erradicate poverty. It is minds that need to change and education that can only provide this. Otherwise Africa is doomed to repeate this cycle of abuse reeped upon them people such as Charles Taylor, Foday Sankoh, Hinga Norman etc. Birahima recognizes this and it is his despair at the ignorance of his fellow men that makes him angry.

All in all it was a fantastic read and one i can't highly recommend enough.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Juggling the front lines 21 Aug 2009
Orphaned following the death of his mother, Birahima, ten or twelve year old self-declared "fearless blameless street kid", leaves his native village in Ivory Coast to find his aunt in far away Liberia. He is accompanied by Yacouba, "money multiplier", shaman and "gri-gri man", a man who makes amulets for whatever religion seems appropriate at the moment and claiming to protect the wearer from hostile bullets from the other side. They are caught up in the middle of West Africa's brutal civil wars of the nineteen nineties. Having little education and no training, Birahima joins the hordes of child soldiers, fighting for whatever faction supplies them with food, weapons, protective amulets (gri-gri) and hashish. Ahmadou Kourouma, highly respected award winning Ivorian author, has created with ALLAH IS NOT OBLIGED a vivacious, often hilarious, but also disturbing and thought provoking novel.

Published in 2000 in its original French, it was likely the first of fictionalized or factual accounts capturing the life of child soldiers in West or East Africa. Written in the voice of a boy with less than three years of schooling, and with limited French, the author uses his protagonist to convey much more than the intimate reflections of one of the "small soldiers" and what the youth describes as his "miserable existence". The young hero, like the author, is Malinké, an ancient and powerful West African civilization with its own unique language. Birahima shares his story in an unusual and often slang-type French. The author uses this approach to give the reader a flair of the idiomatic Malinké expressions that are full of vivid imagery, curious connotations and convey its distinct African logic.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars 2 Oct 2014
By Mr fox
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
An absolute masterpiece
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Allah Is Not Obliged 13 Mar 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Allah is not Obliged is a child soldiers view of the Sierra Leone conflict, tragic and sometimes humorous a very cleverly written story. If I could mention one fault it would be the constant explanation of certain words or expressions throughout the book.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good book about Africa. 20 Jan 2010
This is a great book. It is so easy to read, one can even finish in a day. All my friends are waiting to borrow this book from me.
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