(An Orchestra of Minorities) PDF DOWNLOAD æ Chigozie Obioma

Anthology of Articles on African Linguistics and Literature jFirst book and debut novel The Fishermen prize a deeply allegorical but simply narrated story set in Nigeria was perhaps surprisingly shortlisted for the 2015 Man Booker Prize This is his second novel and ambitious in scope The genesis of the novel is contained in this 2016 article written by the author for the Guardianhttpswwwtheguardiancomworld201The author recounts his own experience as a Nigerian student in the largely unrecognised state of Turkish Northern Cyprus and his realisation that many if not most of the other Nigerian students there had been swindled out of money they had paid in advance for fees and accommodation and also deceived into believing that entry to Northern Cyprus would give themobs prosperity and the right to move anywhere in the EU The author himself had been able via his family to pay his fees direct to the University and from his degree was able to gain a place as a Creative Writing lecturer in the US However his experience was very much the exception and one of his fellow students Jay who appears as a character in this book committed suicide as a result of his despair on arriving in Cyprus and realising the way he had been deceived The author was clearly hugely affected by this incident and wondered about the Nigerian who had carried out the swindle who was presumably unaware that his small momentary gain had such cataclysmic conseuences The article also covers an image of Northern Cyprus which stuck with the author trapped birds trying to escape their fateIn interviews about the book the author has also talked about how this incident and other things he witnessed in Cyprus caused him to examine what he sees as the great topic of literature the contradiction between free will and fate and how he interprets them through not so much traditional Western views but through the prism of the ancient Igbo philosophy of his ancestors I think it s the uestion of fate s unknowingness its unuestionability its irrationality its madness its unpredictability its mercy its brutality its generosity its elusiveness its banality its vitality and all the things you can ascribe to it It is the most metaphysical of all phenomena if we can call it a phenomenon I cannot conceive of a greater topic for great literature I m chiefly concerned with metaphysics of existence and essence as they relate to the Igbo philosophy of being We believe that life is in essence a dialectic between free will and destiny It is a paradox that you can make a choice yet that everything is preordained And it is in this space that I anchor my stories The novel that he produced originally conceived as per the 2016 Guardian article as The Falconer features a young Nigerian man Chinoso his mother having died in his childhood the recent death of his father has left him newly orphaned and in sole charge of a the poultry farming business he and his father developed Somewhat at a loss in live one day he persuades a girl against committing suicide by umping from a bridge into a torrential river sacrificing two of his precious newly purchased birds to shock her with the physical horror of what she is contemplatingLater the woman seeks him out and realising what he sacrificed for her as well as being hugely affected by an incident when he shows the lengths to which he is prepared to go for what he loves by attacking a hawk which is protecting his fowl begins a relationship with him She however is studying for a Pharmacy degree and the daughter of a tribal Chief and her family violently reject both his poverty and tellingly lack of education The latter leads him to the fateful decision to take up an invite from an old school acuaintance one he used to bully at school that he will arrange a place to study at a European university in Northern Cyprusa one thing he funds by selling his beloved poultry and his family home The conventional part of the narrative follows his arrival in Northern Cyprus as the scam played out on him becomes immediately apparent the tragic spiral of events that follows and his eventual return to Nigeria to confront his past A story which while conventional and explicitly drawing on the Odyssey is also told in a vibrant way with pidgin English and Igbo both translated and untranslated sitting alongside vivid descriptions But what really distinguishes the book is its unconventional part which is based in Igbo cosmology and philosophy The book is narrated by Chinoso s guardian spirit his chi Chapters are told in flashback effectively in the form of a defense statement drawn up by the chi to the higher powers setting out Chinoso s fate and his resulting actions drawing on ancient Igbo parables sayings and beliefs in an attempt to explain both and with the ultimate aim of pleading for divine clemency for Chinoso s actions in particular his unwitting harming of a pregnant womanOn the whole I think this approach works the chi functions as a form of partial omniscient narrator successfully re appropriating the standard but often criticised form of third party Western novelistic narration into a ancient tradition of African story telling And the chi explores dialectic themes first of loneliness and love in the opening Nigerian section then fate and destiny despair and hope in the Cypriot parts then the ideas of hatred and forgiveness in the closing section All the time indulging in vivid imagery Most of what he said pivoted around the perils of loneliness and the need for a woman And his words were true for I had lived among mankind long enough to know that loneliness is the violent dog that barks interminably through the long night of grief I have seen it many timesEBUBEDIKE the great fathers speak of a man who is anxious and afraid as being in a fettered state They say this speak of a is anxious and afraid as being in a fettered state They say this because anxiety fear rob a man of his peace And a man without peace Such a man they say is inwardly dead But when he rids himself of the shackles and the chains rattle and tumble away into outer dark he becomes free again Reborn To prevent himself from falling again into bondage he tries to build defences around himself So what does he do He allows in yet another fear This time it is not the fear that he is undone because of his present circumstances but that in a yet uncreated and unknown time something else will go wrong and he will be broken again Thus he lives in a cycle in which the past is rehearsed time and time again He becomes enslaved by what has not yet come I have seen it many timesAlso it became clear to him now that it wasn t he alone who harboured hatred or a full pitcher of resentment from which every step or so in its rough ourney on the worn path of life a drop or two spilled It was many people perhaps everyone in the land everyone in Alaigbo or even everyone in the country in which its people live blindfolded gagged terrified Perhaps every one of them was filled with some kind of hatred Certainly Surely an old grievance like an immortal beast was locked up in an unbreakable dungeon of their hearts They must be angry at the lack of electricity at the lack of amenities at the corruption Where I felt it did not succeed so well at least for my own enjoyment was when the chi character itself and its own parallel cosmological world took prominence lacking any real context and with the author seemingly unwilling to provide it I often found myself skipping these sections especially a lengthy sectional the end to the Cypriot part of the novel which ultimately seems to lead nowhere in a mix of bewilderment and impatience I was again mystified by the fact that despite the dozen or so childish spirits playing a market went on undisrupted below them The market continued to teem with women haggling people driving in cars a masuerade swinging through the place to the music of an uja and the sound of an ekwe None of them was aware of what was above them and those above paid no heed to those below either I had been so carried away by the frolicking spirits that the masuerade and its entourage were gone by the time I returned to my host Because of the fluidity of time in the spirit realm what may seem like a long time to man is in fact the snap of a finger This was why by the time I was back into him he was already in his van driving back to Umuahia Because of this distraction I was unable to bear witness to everything my host did at the market and for this I plead your forgiveness I often struggled to see this element of the book as much than a unnecessary and only partly forgivable distraction from the power of the main story I also felt that a recurring theme of a Gosling that Chinoso raised as a child simultaneously loving but holding in captivity but which was then stolen from him and which he destroyed while taking revenge was rather over labouredStronger though was the link between the distress of the poultry during the hawk attack and other traumatic incidents and the helplessness of Chinoso and others in the face of oppression and injustice Er he Nonso I have been wondering all day what is the sound that the chickens were making after the hawk took the small one It was like they all gathered er together She coughed and he heard the sound of phlegm within her throat It was like they were all saying the same thing the same sound He started to speak but she spoke on It was strange Did you notice it Obim Yes Mommy he said Tell me what is it Is it crying Are they crying He inhaled It was hard for him to talk about this phenomenon because it often moved him For it was one of the things that he cherished about the domestic birds their fragility how they relied chiefly on him for their protection sustenance and everything In this they were unlike the wild birds It is true Mommy it is cry he said Really That is so Mommy Oh God Nonso No wonder Because of the small one That is so That the hawk took That is so Mommy That is very sad Nonso she said after a moment s uiet But how did you know they were crying My father told me He was always saying it is like a burial song for the one that has gone He called it Egwu umu obereihe You understand I don t know umu obere ihe in English Little things she said No minorities Yes yes that is so That is the translation my father said That s how he said it in English minorities He was always saying it is like their okestra Orchestra she said O r c h e s t r a That is so that is how he pronounced it Mommy He was always saying the chickens know that is all they can do crying and making the sound ukuuukuu Ukuuukuu Overall a book which while not entirely su. F his prized chickens off the bridge The woman Ndali is stopped in her tracksChinonso and Ndali fall in love but she is from an educated and wealthy family When her family objects to the union on the grounds that he is not her social eual he sells most of his pos. ,
An Orchestra of MinoritiesCcessful represents a worthy and ambitious second novel A story should glide like a yacht not bump along like a supermarket trolley MeHaving seen a profusion of rapturous reviews for this African tale I had very high hopes And what a gorgeous title too I was begui Right from the start of An Orchestra of Minorities we know that the main character Nonso a humble poultry farmer has done something very bad but we don t yet know what it is His chi a sort of guardian spirit is interceding with the Igbo deity on Nonso s behalf and this chi narrates the tale of Nonso s downfall like a courtroom lawyer stating his case for the defence What gradually unfolds is a love story and a tragedy shot through with Igbo cosmology and traditionNonso the chicken guy meets the beautiful educated worldly Ndali but her wealthy parents disapprove He decides the solution is to pursue higher education but this proves disastrous and things go from bad to worse for Nonso Because it s all being told retrospectively by Nonso s chi there s plenty of ominous foreshadowing and it s ultimately uite a bleak tale I couldn t uite get into An Orchestra of Minorities and I think the reason comes down to pacing and structural issues The first half of the book is Agricultural Engineering just so slow From about the middle it picks up but remains uneven to the end Obioma builds tension only to insert humdrum details at the oddest moments he also neglects certain characters and plot points The book is about Nonso s fall and I didn t have a problem with Nonso being the main focus But Ndali s character was skimmed over to a ridiculous degree When the story begins Ndali is apparently suicidal but this isust the setup for a meet cute and is never really mentioned again It s a glaring loose thread Similarly even before these two lovebirds get together Nonso has a whole other brief relationship with a woman named Motu which goes nowhere and doesn t add much to the narrative I expected to eventually circle back to these matters but noThere s also some very heavy handed imagery especially involving a pet gosling that Nonso had as a child I don t think it s a spoiler to say that something bad happened to the gosling Nonso is constantly thinking about his gosling remembering his gosling dreaming about his gosling gee do you think this gosling represents Ndali The ending really angered me tooThese are obviously nitpicks but they stand out because the book overall Distant Echoes Finding Keys To Life After Abuse just wasn t engaging enough it was slow and the characters especially the female characters were thinly drawn As it s being heavily promoted my expectations were high but it fell flat for me Anti hero CheckDramatic irony CheckHomer s Odyssey Not so much All who have been chained and beaten whose lands have been plundered whose civilizations have been destroyed who have been silenced raped shamed and killed With all these people he d come to share a common fate They were the minorities of this world whose only recourse was tooin this universal orchestra in which all there was to do was cry and wail Agbatta Alumalu the fathers of old say that without light a person cannot sprout shadows My host fell in love with this woman She came as a strange sudden light that caused shadows to spring from everything else Wow How do I even begin to review this book All words seem inadeuate It is exceptional It is beautiful And it is unlike anything I ve ever read beforeIt s challenging too I don t want to sell it to readers who won t like it It s a clever and dense literary work heavily influenced by Nigerian cosmology It takes some time to settle into the unusual narration the story is narrated by Chinonso s chi a kind of guardian spirit but once I did I could not put it down She poked her hand into the dark and secret places of his life and touched everything in it And in time she became the thing his soul had been yearning after for years with tears in its eyes The strength of this novel I feel is that it is fundamentally an old and universal tale A tale of a poor man who falls Based upon Nigerian Igbo beliefs each being has a chi a guardian spirit A chi has gone through many cycles of reincarnation and is familiar with earthy challenges In the present cycle of life Chinonso Solomon Olisa is a host His chi the book s commentator tries to intercede to testify to Chukwu Creator of All that Nonso has committed a grave crime but unknowinglyNonso was a man of silence He felt total emptiness and perpetual loneliness His father died leaving him in charge of their poultry farm His pet gosling died through an act of revenge performed by catapulting a stone Raising fowl suited Nonso These domestic creatures were weak animals and he enjoyed ministering to them On the way home from market with a new flock his comrades in his truck he witnessed a young woman scaling a bridge over the Amatu River planning her demise Nonso instantly reacted by throwing two of his chickens from the bridge to show her what would happen if she umped He talked her down after all he understood despair His chi suggested he proceed home In retrospect Nonso felt he hadn t done enough to help her A chance meetinga connectionlonely uneducated farmer meets girl of his dreamshighly educated Ndali Obialor feels truly cherishedit s love Ndali and her family live in a mansion with marble floors Ndali however has a mind of her own Chi is worried that the budding love between Nonso and Ndali will make Nonso disregard His Counsel In Order To counsel In order to worthy of Ndali but against her wishes and protests Nonso leaves his poultry farm in Nigeria and travels to north Cyprus seeking higher education and lifestyle change in the name of loveNonso s chi s testimony to Chukwu includes a recounting of Nonso s trials and tribulations in his uest for betterment Chi explains that although as a spirit being he left his host s body in search of consultation to benefit his host he could not interfere We should allow man to execute his will and be manAn Orchestra of Minorities by Chigozie Obioma left me speechless breathless and filled with awe The prose in this work of magical realism was superb I slowly savored this remarkable yet harsh and devastating tale I highly recommend this bookThank you Little Brown and Company and Net Galley for the opportunity to read and review An Orchestra of Minorities Beautiful writing and interesting philosophy totally wasted on a to read and review An Orchestra of Minorities Beautiful writing and interesting philosophy totally wasted on a that doesn t think of women as people Nothing but a litany of excuses for a man s violence being a litany of excuses for a man s violence being loose on a woman he supposedly loves Every terrible wrong in his life of which she was not actor or creator being brought to her doorThis is nature This is how a man is This is what a man does On on on not uestioning not pushing not offering a different vision of the world Sexual violence against the male protagonist is elided and not looked at yet we are shown and met to sympathize him pushing past a woman s nos to fuck her without a condom of him obsessively and angrily fantasizing about men touching a woman he is no longer with in tit biting detail his woman had yielded to another man Forgives is available to those who have truly wronged him but not to a woman who dares to be loved by him not wait for him eternallyI was drawn in by the philosophy by the discussion of the nature of the world of the way Igbo culture might fit into a modern context unfortunately the narrative underneath was stale garbage retreading on the same goddamn bullshit where a women s pain is meaningless where a woman is nothing but an object on which love in enacted where we must start already hearing excuses for why violence against her should be forgiven Fuck this Fuck every second of reading it This is a beautifully written story a love story an odyssey and ultimately a tragedy Set in Umuahi Nigeria and Cyprus it is the life story of Chinonso Solomon Olisa a young poultry farmer who falls in love with a beautiful young woman far above him in class In order to marry her he sells everything he owns so that he might get a college education but things go horribly wrong for him one after anotherWhat makes this story so unusual is that it is narrated by Chinonso s chi or guardian spirit who has gone before the ancient god of many names to explain Chinonso s actions so that he won t be udged too harshly The title An Orchestra of Minorities comes up many times in the story the first and to me the most touching of these is when Chinonso explains to his love Ndali Obialor that the chickens sing a song of mourning for the one among their flock who has gone in this case taken by a hawk His father always called that an orchestra of minorities He was always saying the chickens know that is all they can do crying and making the sound ukuuukuu Ukuuukuu But this relates so well to Chinonso s own life who often finds he has no power over circumstances as they unfold as have so many others like him throughout history All who have been chained and beaten whose lands have been plundered whose civilizations have been destroyed who have been silenced beaten raped plundered shamed and killed With all these people he d come to share a common fate They were the minorities of this world whose recourse was to oin the universal orchestra in which all there is to do is cry and wail This is not an easy read There is plenty of foreshadowing by the chi to let the reader know this won t have a happy ending And the characters are only seen through the spirit s observations so there are naturally limitations to the full development of characterizations I tend to give high marks for inventive writing The book that this reminds me most of is Lincoln in the Bardo another highly inventive novel so if you loved that book as I did I can recommend this book to you Of course comparison to the story of The Odyssey comes up often in this story but in that ancient tale his true love waits for her husband s return I ve read several interviews with Chigozie Obioma about his new book and saw this uote he posted on Instagram that you might find interesting The inspiration for An Orchestra of Minorities came when I went to the Turkish Republic of Cyprus in 2007 for college At the time I was one of very few African or black people on the island I was the only one who wasn t Turkish in my class Jay a young Nigerian man who had recently been deported from Germany came a year later and his travails and eventual death inspired the character of Chinonso I received an arc from the publisher via NetGalley for my honest review I m very grateful for the opportunit. Sessions to attend college in Cyprus But when he arrives in Cyprus he discovers that he has been utterly duped by the young Nigerian who has made the arrangements for him Penniless homeless we watch as he gets further and further away from his dream and from home. ,

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If the prey do not produce their version of the tale the predators will always be the heroes in the story of the hunt says the uotation which opens this unusual and beautiful novel and indeed we come to understand that the minorities in its title are the prey so often voiceless who are now precariously recovering their ability to bear witness I like this attitude I like to hear about people who have been trampled on by history but fought back Recently I have read Sofi Oksanen s When the Doves Disappeared which tells us about the Estonians and I have read Romain Gary s La danse de Gengis Cohn which tells us about the Polish Jews I have read Jonathan R e s I See a Voice which tells us about the worldwide Deaf community Now I have read Chigozie Obioma s account of the Nigerians These people s stories have many elements in common and one of the most obvious is that their languages have been systematically suppressed The Soviets made Russian the language of administration and business when they were occupying Estonia Teachers punished Deaf children who tried to use sign language I was not surprised to read that the British punished Nigerians who used African languagesWhen one people decides to eradicate another they sometimes ust kill them as the Germans did with the Polish Jews and the Spaniards did with the pre Columbian inhabitants of the Caribbean islands You can find a great deal about this in Jens Bj rneboe s Bestialitetens historie But most often they can t uite bring themselves to go this far and they find they can achieve their ends almost as well by eradicating the subject people s language and culture they are pleased to discover that some of their subjects cooperate The thing that makes When the Doves Disappeared so horrifying is the way Edgar willingly turns himself into an efficient tool first of the Nazis and then of the Bolsheviks And similarly what makes An Orchestra of Minorities so horrifying is that the truly cruel and despicable things that happen are not done by White people They are done by Black people who have internalised the values and language of the White people and come to despise their own culture s values and language The book fights back by setting its action in the world of traditional Igbo culture a world most of its readers will know nothing about I certainly didn t Characters often speak for a sentence or two in Igbo or pidgin to remind the reader that if you re an Igbo whose family hasn t managed to find the money to send you to university this is what it s like you hear words perhaps important words in the White man s language and you don t understand them Most memorably the narrator is the central character s chi What is a chi We don t have this concept in our spiritual universe It is not a Christian soul or guardian angel and it is not a Hindu atman It is a little bit like all of these but only a little bit Really it is something different and even after reading the book I have only a very partial understanding of what a chi is It is another person who is both part of you and not part of you who has been alive before you were born as part of other people and will be alive after you are dead So how can any of this make a book which a Westerner can find not The Alchemy of Culture: Intoxicants in Society just worthwhile but compelling I stayed up until 1 am last night finishing it Somehow the author has done a strange and remarkable thing He has learned to grasp our language and culture and even love it but without letting go of his own He has taken this alien universe with its incomprehensible language and he has transposed it into gorgeous and poetic English He has pushed open a door between our two worldust a crack but that is already a huge achievement and we look through that crack and are amazed We think this is something completely new I have never seen anything like it Thank you Chigozie Obioma If only there were people like you Now Shortlisted for the Booker Prize 2019I feel torn between the considerable merit of this tale about the loss of dignity and the fact that I had a very hard time finishing the book because of its repetitiveness and its excessive love for overly detailed descriptions For what it has to say this novel is at least 200 pages too long Obioma tells the story of Chinonso a young Nigerian poultry farmer who falls in love with Ndali a student of pharmacy Ndali s family does not accept Chinonso because of his lack of education so he sells all of his belongings in order to travel to Northern Cyprus he was told that he could get a college degree there But things do not turn out as planned Obioma does a fantastic ob when it comes to describing the importance of personal dignity for the human soul Again and again Chinonso is confronted with degradation and cruelty and he desperately tries to overcome or at least psychologically deal with it In Nigeria Ndali s family of social climbers does not grant him the respect he deserves for being a farmer a sentiment which he internalizes in Cyprus he is a black foreigner who gets caught up in the system thus the book also touches upon the experiences of African immigrants It is certainly no coincidence that Chinonso travels to Northern Cyprus not the Republic of Cyprus Not only did the author really meet a fellow Nigerian man in Northern Cyprus whose destiny inspired him to write this book Chinonso also strands right at the border of the EU but cannot cross into it only the of the EU but cannot cross into it only the of Cyprus is a member state Chinonso s travels are very loosely based on The Odyssey but will Ndali his Penelope wait for him What sets Obioma s book apart from the classic European tale is among other things the narrator We hear the whole story from the point of view of Chinonso s chi his guardian spirit which stands at the center of Igbo cosmological belief The author has explained that he wanted to challenge the Western conception of Agency His Book S Central His book s central has only limited agency because the chi points to the dimension of destiny beyond human control This is certainly a fascinating narrative concept especially for Westerners like me who are largely unfamiliar with Igbo culture but to my ears the very particular voice of the chi which freuently breaks the narrative flow by uttering rather long general philosophical musings was sometimes a little hard to bear especially the relentless repetition of its signature
I have seen it many I admit that at some point I wanted to slap Chinonso s chi for repeating this one sentence over and over and over again On the other hand Obioma intended to break with Western traditions of writing so there is certainly the factor of Western readers struggling with his approach that influences the reading experience and that absolutely can t be held against the author As the story progresses it becomes clear why the chi insists on giving us all and I mean ALL the details about its host Chinonso and what happened to him but guys this is one looooooooooong book that outstays its welcome if it was shorter I m sure it would have a higher impact The topic of dignity is one of the most urgent in our current political climate it is at the core of uestions like migration the culture wars identity politics etc Chinonso is ust one member of the Orchestra of Minorities which is made up by millions of people worldwide who have to fight for their dignity So I really wish I could have loved this novel but ultimately it buried an urgent topic under too many words Now shortlisted for the 2019 Booker Prize having been re read following its longlistingAs part of my re read I came across two articles in the Millions by the author which I found very helpful for understanding the writing style that the author has deployed is and it s very deliberate contrast in its expansive prose and layers of reality to what he sees as the minimalism and literalness that has come to dominate much Western literature Both articles locate his writing firmly in a Nigerian tradition and appear a conscious effort to portray himself as a successor to Chinua Achebe Given a number of the expansive books on the longlist I feel that the Sonic Alchemy: Visionary Music Producers and Their Maverick Recordings judges may agree with his take which is a fascinating read and starts In one of his essays the late Nigerian writer Chinua Achebe stated that no one be fooled by the fact that we write in English for we intend to do unheard of things with it That we is in essence an authoritative oratorical posture that cast him as a representative of a group a kindred of writers who either by design or fate have adopted English as the language of literary composition With these words it seems that to Achebe the intention to do unheard of things with language is a primary factor in literary creation He is right And this should be the most important factorhttpsthemillionscom20170293351 which starts Like most other art forms fiction has undergone many configurations over the years but its core has remained as always the aesthetic pleasure of reading When we read we connect to the immaterial source of the story through its outstretched limbs The limb or variants of it are what the writer has deemed fit for us to see to gaze at and admire It is not often the whole But one of the major ways in which fiction has changed today from the second half of the 20th century especially is that most of its fiction reveals all its limbs to us all at once Nothing is hidden behind the esoteric wall of mystery or metaphysicsORIGINAL REVIEW A poultry farmer named Jamike Nwaorji having groomed him for some time having plucked excess feathers from his body having fed him with mash and millet having let him graze about gaily having probably staunched a leg wounded by a stray nail had now sealed him up in a cage And all he could do now all there was to do now was cry and wail He had nowoined many others all the people Tobe had listed who have been defrauded of their belongings the Nigerian girl near the police station the man at the airport all those who have been captured against their will to do what they did not want to do either in the past or the present all who have been forced into Mapping wild gardens: The symbolic conquest of South Africa (African literatures in English) joining an entity they do not wish to belong to and countless others All who have been chained and beaten whose lands have been plundered whose civilisations have been destroyed who have been silenced raped shamed and killed With all these people he d come to share a common fate They were the minorities of this world whose only recourse was tooin this universal orchestra in which all there was to do was cry and wail The author A contemporary twist on the Odyssey An Orchestra of Minorities is narrated by the chi or spirit of a young poultry farmer named Chinonso His life is set off course when he sees a woman who is about to ump off a bridge Horrified by her recklessness he hurls two
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