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Radiance of Tomorrow: A Novel
 
 

Radiance of Tomorrow: A Novel [Kindle Edition]

Ishmael Beah
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Product Description

A haunting, beautiful first novel by the bestselling author of A Long Way Gone

When Ishmael Beah’s A Long Way Gone was published in 2007, it soared to the top of bestseller lists, becoming an instant classic: a harrowing account of Sierra Leone’s civil war and the fate of child soldiers that “everyone in the world should read” (The Washington Post). Now Beah, whom Dave Eggers has called “arguably the most read African writer in contemporary literature,” has returned with his first novel, an affecting, tender parable about postwar life in Sierra Leone.
     At the center of Radiance of Tomorrow are Benjamin and Bockarie, two longtime friends who return to their hometown, Imperi, after the civil war. The village is in ruins, the ground covered in bones. As more villagers begin to come back, Benjamin and Bockarie try to forge a new community by taking up their former posts as teachers, but they’re beset by obstacles: a scarcity of food; a rash of murders, thievery, rape, and retaliation; and the depredations of a foreign mining company intent on sullying the town’s water supply and blocking its paths with electric wires. As Benjamin and Bockarie search for a way to restore order, they’re forced to reckon with the uncertainty of their past and future alike.
     With the gentle lyricism of a dream and the moral clarity of a fable, Radiance of Tomorrow is a powerful novel about preserving what means the most to us, even in uncertain times.


Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1160 KB
  • Print Length: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Sarah Crichton Books (7 Jan 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00DXJFRGM
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #157,222 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars New beginnings... 30 Jun 2014
Format:Kindle Edition
"They laughed, both knowing that part of the old ways remained, though they were fragile. At the end of their laughter, words were exchanged, briefly, leaving many things unsaid for another day that continued to be another and yet another…"

Mama Kadie cautiously enters the central path of her village, not sure what to expect, pondering on what has remained and who is still there or has come back like she does now. After the traumas, losses and devastation of the war she experiences profound emotions as she walks barefoot on the local soil, smells the scents of the land and watches and listens for every sound in the bushes. What will life have in store for her? The opening pages of Ishmael Beah's debut novel, "Radiance of Tomorrow", are achingly beautiful; his voice gentle and affecting, his deep emotional connection palpable with what he describes so colourfully. Having experienced international acclaim with his memoir, "A Long Way Gone", which recounts the story of a child soldier in Sierra Leone, with his new book he returns to his homeland, sharing with his readers the demanding and difficult path that the local people have to follow in their recovery from the brutal war and its many losses in life and livelihood. There is hope – radiance – for a better future but there are also many sacrifices to make: forgiving is not forgetting; rebuilding on ruins, literally, on the bones of loved ones is probably one of the most haunting challenges. Transposing the facts and realities of the aftermath of the Sierra Leonean war into a fictional framework carries its own challenges. At the same time, it gives the author a greater freedom of expression for exploring the tragedies and recoveries.
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5.0 out of 5 stars An inspiring story 21 Jan 2014
Format:Hardcover
Ismael Beah's new novel is a commendable story of redemption from the scourges of war in a small Sierra Leonean settlement ravaged by the civil war. It shows the great human capacity to come anew from the horrors of war, to forge a new future while still having haunting memories lurking around. It is a theme replete in Africa, a place with the great capacity to turn a new leaf in human relations, where former enemies easily bury the hatchet and move on. It is a theme seen in books like Triple Agent Double Cross, Half of a Yellow Sun. Overall, Radiance of Tomorrow is a very inspiring story.
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By Denis Vukosav TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:Kindle Edition
"Radiance of Tomorrow" by Ishmael Beah is new well-made novel from African writer who tells a story about hope and courage, about consequences of the war-ravaged Sierra Leone, observed through the fate of two best friends who return to their hometown.

After the civil war in Sierra Leone was over, Benjamin and Bockarie together with other people are coming back to Imperi, their birth place in ruins. Both are teachers so their desire by resuming the old post is to help rebuild their country and their community with knowledge and education.
But even though the war have ended, the country is in ruins, and the problems are all around them - lack of food, vengeance, murders, rape and theft are part of everyday painful life that surrounds them. Additionally, under the guise of helping troubled African country and its people, a foreign company jeopardizes their survival polluting water which will again cause unrest amnog people.

So the two friends besides thinking about the safety of their lives, and due to will to help people around them and hold fragile peace would need to put themselves in the position to fix what is today so the things that will come could be better, bringing hope for a better tomorrow...

Ishmael Beah wrote a strong book that goes beyond terms such as courage and hope; he brought a compelling and moving story about the consequences of the brutal civil war in Sierra Leone, and his story is even more distressing because it's told by the local people that understand why and what happened, something that is most of the time hard to understand for people that are not from these troubled world parts.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  69 reviews
22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Story about hope and courage, another excellent novel from African new literary star 10 Jan 2014
By Denis Vukosav - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
"Radiance of Tomorrow" by Ishmael Beah is new well-made novel from African writer who tells a story about hope and courage, about consequences of the war-ravaged Sierra Leone, observed through the fate of two best friends who return to their hometown.

After the civil war in Sierra Leone was over, Benjamin and Bockarie together with other people are coming back to Imperi, their birth place in ruins. Both are teachers so their desire by resuming the old post is to help rebuild their country and their community with knowledge and education.
But even though the war have ended, the country is in ruins, and the problems are all around them - lack of food, vengeance, murders, rape and theft are part of everyday painful life that surrounds them. Additionally, under the guise of helping troubled African country and its people, a foreign company jeopardizes their survival polluting water which will again cause unrest amnog people.

So the two friends besides thinking about the safety of their lives, and due to will to help people around them and hold fragile peace would need to put themselves in the position to fix what is today so the things that will come could be better, bringing hope for a better tomorrow...

Ishmael Beah wrote a strong book that goes beyond terms such as courage and hope; he brought a compelling and moving story about the consequences of the brutal civil war in Sierra Leone, and his story is even more distressing because it's told by the local people that understand why and what happened, something that is most of the time hard to understand for people that are not from these troubled world parts.

His writting style is different from the Western, but his prose is beautiful and easy to read despite the many shocking events that can be found on the pages of his novel, while story told through fate of these two courageous figures just like themselves is both convincing and compelling.

These all are reasons why "Radiance of Tomorrow", a novel of this contemporary African writer should definitely be read - except that you'll read story written in different way about the things that are otherwise known only from newspaper articles or TV-news, the author story is powerful and emotions that he evokes strong.
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Shepherd of a Story 12 Jan 2014
By C.R. Hurst - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
In the author's note to Radiance of Tomorrow Ishmael Beah asks, how do you return home after the destruction of war? How do you once again make it your home? How do you live there with your family and neighbors and continue traditions of the past, as well as strive for a meaningful future? And in the novel that follows, Beah responses to those questions by creating a story about one village in Sierra Leone whose citizens try to rebuild their lives after a long civil war. It is a wonderful story, so simply told, with such sympathetic characters and such rich imagery that it will be certain to move you.

In the village of Imperi we meet the elders who return first, Mama Kadie and Papa Moiwa, who are quickly followed by others, among them: Sila and his children, who have had their hands cut off during the war, the mysterious Colonel with his group of child soldiers, and a teacher, Bockarie and his wife Kula, who with their children have miraculously survived the war with the family intact. We follow the villagers as they rebuild their lives, only to have their efforts compromised by a rutile (or is it really diamond?) mining operation that brings jobs and corruption to their community. Throughout the novel their stories are told with loving detail, unflinching honesty, and gentle humor. And the language! With simplicity of sentence and unassuming word choice, Beah's imagery is nevertheless beautiful. I recall one particularly lovely description of the capital city, Freetown, where Bockarie and his family are forced to move. After the light provided by generators has dimmed, "the stars and moon came out later and won over the darkness. They shone brighter than light bulbs, and this was an assurance that God and gods still paid some attention to things here, this and the sun, its heat that remained as hot as it had always been." Images such as these personify the natural world in Radiance of Tomorrow.

Without a doubt this novel is one of the finest I have read in years. Ishmael Beah creates a poignant story of tragedy--and of joy. And as Beah remarks about the oral tradition of storytelling, a story told "is no longer yours; it belongs to everyone who encounters it and everyone who takes it in. You are only the shepherd of the story". I hope you too encounter and take in Radiance of Tomorrow.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Radiance 18 Jan 2014
By booknblueslady - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Any one who has read Ishmael Beah's heartbreaking memoir A Long Way Gonecan attest to the fact that he is a compelling author. Having read his memoir, I had a great curiosity about his recently published novel about Sierra Leone. I wondered what kind of novelist he would be and now that I know I hope he continues writing both fiction and nonfiction as he has a gift.

In the Author's Note he explains the great tradition of storytelling in his native country and that his mother tongue Mende has a poetic way of speaking both of which he hopes to use in Radiance of Tomorrow:

Mende, is very expressive, very figurative, and when I write, I always struggle to find the English equivalent of things that I really want to say in Mende. For example, in Mende, you wouldn't say "night came suddenly"; you would say "the sky rolled over and changed its sides."

Beah is successful in his use of both the story telling techniques and his use of language it does in fact lull the reader, letting one forget the horrors of war and look for the radiance of tomorrow. This is a story of a people returning to their village and rebuilding, attempting to leave behind the sorrows and reclaim their home. The first to return to the village of Imepri are the elders, Mama Kadie and Pa Moiwa. The book begins:

"She was the first to arrive where it seemed the wind no longer exhaled. Several miles from town, the trees had entangled one another. Their branches grew toward the ground, burying the leaves in the soil to blind their eyes so the sun would not promise them tomorrow with its rays. It was only the path that was reluctant to cloak its surface completely with grasses, as though it anticipated it would soon end its starvation for the warmth of bare feet that gave it life.

The long and winding paths were spoken of as "snakes" that one walked upon to encounter life or to arrive at the places where life lived. Like snakes, the paths were now ready to shed their old skins for new ones, and such occurrences take time with the necessary interruptions. Today, her feet began one of those interruptions. It may be that those whose years have many seasons are always the first to rekindle their broken friendship with the land, or it may just have happened this way."

I wanted so much for the sorrows that I read of to be over. During the first third of the book, I found myself sobbing and yet so respectful of the spirit of these people who held so true to their essence through such difficult times, who revered their elders and look to them for guidance, who remained strangely quiet regarding the horrors of war to their children who were too young to know.

This time though the danger comes not from war but from a corporation involved in rutile mining, which is indeed a growing industry in Sierra Leone. We see the ways in which this corporation attacks the life and culture that the people of Imperi have so carefully rebuilt:

"The elders shake their heads with doubt, they knew they had to try, as there was more at stake than tradition. Tradition can live on only if those carrying it respect it--and live in conditions that allow the traditions to survive. Otherwise, traditions have a way of hiding inside people and leaving only dangerous footprints of confusion."

The story is both compelling and worrisome. It is not for someone who needs all the strings neatly tied and of course they are not neatly tied in Sierra Leone. I cannot help but admire Beah's skill as an author and sincerely hope to be reading more from him.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars New beginnings 3 Feb 2014
By Friederike Knabe - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
"They laughed, both knowing that part of the old ways remained, though they were fragile. At the end of their laughter, words were exchanged, briefly, leaving many things unsaid for another day that continued to be another and yet another…"

Mama Kadie cautiously enters the central path of her village, not sure what to expect, pondering on what has remained and who is still there or has come back like she does now. After the traumas, losses and devastation of the war she experiences profound emotions as she walks barefoot on the local soil, smells the scents of the land and watches and listens for every sound in the bushes. What will life have in store for her? The opening pages of Ishmael Beah's debut novel, "Radiance of Tomorrow", are achingly beautiful; his voice gentle and affecting, his deep emotional connection palpable with what he describes so colourfully. Having experienced international acclaim with his memoir, "A Long Way Gone", which recounts the story of a child soldier in Sierra Leone, with his new book he returns to his homeland, sharing with his readers the demanding and difficult path that the local people have to follow in their recovery from the brutal war and its many losses in life and livelihood. There is hope – radiance – for a better future but there are also many sacrifices to make: forgiving is not forgetting; rebuilding on ruins, literally, on the bones of loved ones is probably one of the most haunting challenges. Transposing the facts and realities of the aftermath of the Sierra Leonean war into a fictional framework carries its own challenges. At the same time, it gives the author a greater freedom of expression for exploring the tragedies and recoveries. Benefiting from his mother tongue's rich figurative language, Mende, Beah also conveys to us something of the soul of his home and way of thinking. In his language there is a deep connection between land, nature, cosmos and people that speaks through his wording and that also characterizes his in depth developed protagonists.

The first person Mama Kadie meets as she walks along the central paths of the village is Pa Moiwa, who resting on a log in the village square. Much time will be needed to absorb the enormity of what has happened, evidence of violence and death are visible everywhere. Pa Moiwa slowly turns around on hearing the voice of his old friend: his only question is "how she had brought her spirit into town and which route she had taken." "… I walked the path, as that is the way in my heart." There will be many days for them to carefully and gently peel away the layers that have hidden their experiences of the recent past. Every day more people arrive: returning displaced locals and desperate refugees from other parts of the country where survival is even more precarious. Mama Kadie, Pa Moiwa and, later, Pa Kainesi play a central role in the community, respected by everybody as the "elders". Young and old sit together in the village centre after a day's struggle to repair houses, fetch water and find food to cook; the elders are telling stories of the past with the children listening attentively: "It isn't about knowing the most stories, child. It is about carrying the ones that are most important and passing them along [from one generation to the next]…." Meanwhile, the younger adults sit apart working on plans how to find work and supplies to care for their families, among them Bockarie and Benjamin, both teachers, who will do everything in their power to ensure a brighter future for their children and others in the community.

Among the returnees are several former child soldiers and lost orphans who prefer to stay at a distance from the villagers but form an important component in the rebuilding of the village as all are coping with the emotional scars of their and the villagers' recent experiences. They form a small community of their own, led by the enigmatic "Colonel", a shadowy silent figure, who, nonetheless, finds ways to express his growing allegiance to his protégés and the villagers in unexpected ways.
There is a moment of almost idyllic peace in the community, but as is often the case in real life… it is the calm ahead of the storm. And the storm comes in the form of huge trucks and machinery and shouting people who appear to come from another world… The small mining company that had operated in the area before the war has come back with ambitious new owners and investors, who, with little regard to the needs and traditions of the villages nearby, take over the precious farmland and water resources for an ever expanding open-pit mining operation. The company, endorsed by the provincial politicians, is dividing the community physically and emotionally. Their behaviour provokes not only the elders. They bring the worst of city life into this remote region of the country. On the other hand they become the only employer in the villages around. Conflicts are unavoidable and there can only be few winners.

Ishmael Beah's novel is beautifully written, absorbing and engaging at many levels. His central characters stay in your mind long after you closed the book. He succeeds in telling a story that balances humanity and grace on the one hand with the harsh reality of life in a country that has come out of a brutal civil war and is faced with a devastated economy. Traditional ways of life are challenged and as readers we can only hope that the wisdom of the elders can continue in the mind of the younger generations and that they will learn from the many stories their culture and communities have to offer. [Friederike Knabe]
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Struggle, Hopes and Folks 3 Mar 2014
By Richard A. Mitchell - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition
For those who have read Mr. Beah's A LONG WAY HOME, they will not be surprised by the excellence of this novel. This novel is like a sequel to that non-fiction account of the wars in Sierra Leone. The townspeople of Imperi return home after the war to try and recover from the carnage and recover their old way of life. The carnage was done to their homes, their families and their psyches. Economically poor, they had learned to live off the land and their lives were rich, if not economically.

Changes after the war challenge this richness and Mr. Beah follows several families in the town. There are the struggles that always seem to be foisted on the poor, and he ultimately tracks one family's fight to overcome these trials. Ultimately, this is a book of hope that impresses the reader with the purity of heart can be maintained in the face of all sorts of adversity, often the worst man can impart to man.

The writing is rich. Mr. Beah wrote in a preface the difficulty of translating many phrases from his language(s) into English. he brings the richness of those languages and philosophy directly into his writing. The result is often akin to poetry. Highly recommended.
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