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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 jump off a bridge Horrified by her recklessness he hurls two o. 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 beguiled and ready to be seduced Let me at it I criedHurrr rrr chh A screech of brakes or a needle skidding on vinylAlas I just didn t take to it I know I m a fusspot but I really didn t warm to it And for that I m truly sorryThe omniscient narrator a guardian spirit waffled on in a simplistic writing style that had me rolling my eyes and wishing we could bring a resuscitation team of literary greats back from the dead The first few chapters were all exposition and there was nothing here that resembled an actual story Our ethereal narrator kept repeating I had seen it many times To which I retorted Yes you ve said it many times too you insufferable parrotAnd relaxNamasteSo while the cosmic blather continued with little sign of anything resembling dialogue or human interaction on the horizon I shimmied into a lifebuoy and prepared to jump ship Happily a story began to emerge And a very promising one at that a tale of Nonso Olisa an ill starred Nigerian poultry farmer who falls in love with a woman who as a result of being jilted was intent on throwing herself off a bridgeAh ha That s like it I cheered casting off my lifebuoy and getting myself nice and comfyAuspiciously the author began to move through his literary gears fashioning a contemporary Greek tragedy that suggested it might finally live up to its star billing and what eventually happens to our unworldly chicken farmer when he relocates to Cyprus is a complete volte face from the book s uneventful opening chapters The scene was set and I was ready to give it a second chanceBut d oh Again with the exposition Chigozie Obiama snatches defeat from the jaws of victory by reintroducing yet explanatory notes groan that are surely surplus to reuirements There s a potentially moving human story here that needs to be told A thorough edit and word cull would have done this novel a power of good The story continued to advance like a slug through treacle and despite his terrible woes I lost all sympathy for the hapless main character he was largely the architect of his own downfall I rooted for Ndali the lady from the bridge much The pacing throughout remained leaden and I really struggled to get to the finishing line In my humble opinion Salman Rushdie Midnight s Children and Gabriel Garc a M ruez One Hundred Years of Solitude do first person and third person narrative storytelling so much better But as you can see by its plethora of laudatory reviews Chigozie Obiama s book delights a great many of his readers so I m almost certain you should take what I ve said with a pinch of salt and dive right inHave a lifebuoy ready though just in case Cold Case, Hot Accomplice (Men of Wolf Creek, young poultry farmer named Chinonso His life is set off course when he sees a woman who is about to jump off a bridge Horrified by her recklessness he hurls two o. A story should glide like a Blackmailed Into the Greek Tycoons Bed (International Billionaires, 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 beguiled and ready to be seduced Let me at it I criedHurrr rrr chh A screech of brakes or a needle skidding on vinylAlas I just didn t take to it I know I m a fusspot but I really didn t warm to it And for that I m truly sorryThe omniscient narrator a guardian spirit waffled on in a simplistic writing style that had me rolling my eyes and wishing we could bring a resuscitation team of literary greats back from the dead The first few chapters were all exposition and there was nothing here that resembled an actual story Our ethereal narrator kept repeating I had seen it many times To which I retorted Yes Her Husbands Christmas Bargain you ve said it many times too The Geography of Witchcraft you insufferable parrotAnd relaxNamasteSo while the cosmic blather continued with little sign of anything resembling dialogue or human interaction on the horizon I shimmied into a lifebuoy and prepared to jump ship Happily a story began to emerge And a very promising one at that a tale of Nonso Olisa an ill starred Nigerian poultry farmer who falls in love with a woman who as a result of being jilted was intent on throwing herself off a bridgeAh ha That s like it I cheered casting off my lifebuoy and getting myself nice and comfyAuspiciously the author began to move through his literary gears fashioning a contemporary Greek tragedy that suggested it might finally live up to its star billing and what eventually happens to our unworldly chicken farmer when he relocates to Cyprus is a complete volte face from the book s uneventful opening chapters The scene was set and I was ready to give it a second chanceBut d oh Again with the exposition Chigozie Obiama snatches defeat from the jaws of victory by reintroducing Hold On To Me yet explanatory notes groan that are surely surplus to reuirements There s a potentially moving human story here that needs to be told A thorough edit and word cull would have done this novel a power of good The story continued to advance like a slug through treacle and despite his terrible woes I lost all sympathy for the hapless main character he was largely the architect of his own downfall I rooted for Ndali the lady from the bridge much The pacing throughout remained leaden and I really struggled to get to the finishing line In my humble opinion Salman Rushdie Midnight s Children and Gabriel Garc a M ruez One Hundred Years of Solitude do first person and third person narrative storytelling so much better But as Copping It Sweet (Murphys Law you can see by its plethora of laudatory reviews Chigozie Obiama s book delights a great many of his readers so I m almost certain Ill Be Yours for Christmas (Harlequin Blaze, you should take what I ve said with a pinch of salt and dive right inHave a lifebuoy ready though just in case

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An Orchestra of Minorities

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. Beautiful writing and interesting philosophy totally wasted on a book that doesn t think of women as people Nothing but a litany of excuses for a man s violence being let 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 Her Small-Town Hero 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. Beautiful writing and interesting philosophy totally wasted on a book that doesn t think of women as people Nothing but a litany of excuses for a man s violence being let 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 Red Tail (Travis Trilogy 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 Promises in Tumble Creek 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

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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. 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 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 is just 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 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


10 thoughts on “An Orchestra of Minorities

  1. says:

    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 revie

  2. says:

    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 beguiled and read

  3. says:

    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 t

  4. says:

    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 tha

  5. says:

    Rig

  6. says:

    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 h

  7. says:

    Beautiful writing and interesting philosophy totally wasted on a book that doesn't think of women as people Nothing but a litany of excuses for a man's violence being let 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 wo

  8. says:

    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

  9. says:

    Now shortlisted for the 2019 Booker Prize having been re read following its longlistingAs part of my re read I came acros

  10. says:

    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 unusu

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