In this inner monologue, a child soldier reflects on his short life (3 years in the army), while searching for his platoon which he lost after an explosion: `I joined up at twelve. I will never be a man. I am some kind of chimera who knows only the dreadful intimacy of killing.'
He was trained as a landmine defuser. Therefore, his vocal cords were severed, `so that we wouldn't scare each other with our death screams, if one of us was blown up by a mine. Detecting a mine with your bare toes and defusing it with a jungle knife requires all your concentration.'
In the beginning of the war, `there was a clear enemy, and having lost loved ones to them, we all wanted revenge.' Now, he is `fighting to survive the war.'
Does life on earth with its loves and rapes makes any sense?
`What kind of God makes a world like this? Not God, Isaiah, our prophet, signed. Man.'
And, `why didn't (the Koran) say: all Muslims must never take another life?'
It doesn't make much sense: `You see, we are nothing if we don't know how to die right. That sums us up as a people. Not the manner we come into the world, but the manner in which we leave.'
With its strong images (`a nuclear bomb, (its) mushroom cloud, a tumor in the sky') Chris Abani evocates the horrible nightmare of war, especially for innocent children coming of age in a violent and deadly conflict.
This is one of the best anti-war novels ever written
I also highly recommend `Sozaboy' by his shamefully condemned and executed compatriot Ken Saro-Wiwa.
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