Man Booker Prize 2015 Short List
Serious spoilers in this blog!
I had just finished reading The Fishermen when it was announced that the novel had made it to the Booker Short List. I was not sure whether I agreed or not. I found myself torn two ways: I was impressed by the beautifully phrased sentences and the carefully chosen words, I appreciated the way Obiama painted the contrast in nineties Nigeria: economic developments, the soccer team winning Olympic gold, the violence of politicians and their fractions and the superstition still having a strong hold on society. I felt that Obiama went slightly overboard with the drama though. Four young brothers become the victims of superstition when one of them believes the prediction of a prophesying madman. He is convinced the man has predicted his death by the hand of one of his brothers. Obiama’s novel is called a modern Nigerian Oedipus. Even Oedipus however ‘merely’ kills his father. In The Fishermen the oldest brother starts quarrelling with his younger siblings which results in a violent row: he gets killed, the killer takes his own life. The two younger brothers then decide to take revenge and kill the poor madman. Obiama almost made me believe they would be taken to Canada before they had managed to take revenge, only to be sincerely disappointed when they manage to kill the man a few days before flying of. Instead of going to Canada one runs of and the other – the I-figure – spends six years in jail without being allowed to see his family. By that time Obiama had me thinking ‘oh do stop, not any more, please!’. He would have convinced me that superstition can have a disastrous effect on a family after the first brothers deadly row. Obiama has written a good novel, it is not a stunning one though. It did not leave me overwhelmed at the end, in awe of the writer and his novel. When compared to previous Booker Prize nominees I feel that The Fishermen is lacking. Mere ‘good’ does not do it for a Short Listed novel as far as I am concerned.