Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Review: Radiance of Tomorrow by Ishmael Beah

Radiance of Tomorrow
Radiance of Tomorrow
Ishmael Beah

First lines: She was the first to arrive where it seemed the wind no longer exhaled.

Radiance of Tomorrow is set in Sierra Leone. The civil war has ended, and people are starting to return to their devastated hometowns.

The story centers on the families of two teachers, Bockarie, a native of the small town of Imperi and his wife, children, and father, and Benjamin, who has come to Imperi with his wife and children to teach in the secondary school. The two men become friends and allies in their struggles. But just as things seem to be going all right, a mining company comes, and everything changes.

My thoughts:
Radiance is a heart-breaking novel. It is written in such an interesting lyrical style--Beah explains in an author's note that he hoped to emulate the figurative language of his native tongue--but the story it tells is a hard one to hear. I do not know much about Africa, its many countries and peoples, and its political upheavals. It just seems unthinkable that all of this can be happening in our lifetimes, on our planet, and really we are a party to it without even knowing its happening. This is a slim novel, but it is not a quick or easy read.

Beah is a great writer. I look forward to reading more from him in the future.

Rating: Read+.

Some quotes:

"'We must live in the radiance of tomorrow, as our ancestors have suggested in their tales. For what is yet to come tomorrow has possibilities, and we must think of it, the simplest glimpse of that possibility of goodness. That will be our strength. That has always been our strength.'" (p.167)

"But who can even know what path to walk on when all of them are either crooked or broken? One just has to walk." (p.143)


  1. I think books like that are so very important, even if they make us cringe as we read them.

  2. It sounds so good, but also like it will take me a while to get around to it, as I can find it hard to force myself to read really depressing books!