by Ifunanya
The Fisherman by Chigozie Obioma


Let me start by forewarning you guys, I am horrible at book reviews. I think I lack the required skill set to actually properly review a book. And whilst i intend to do the needed research on that topic, I can’t help but attempt a mock review in the meantime. Forgive me, I have just finished reading this book and the fire still rages inside me.

Here is what the good folks at goodreads had to say about The Fishermen:

“In a Nigerian town in the mid 1990’s, four brothers encounter a madman whose mystic prophecy of violence threatens the core of their close-knit family…

…Dazzling and viscerally powerful, The Fishermen never leaves Akure but the story it tells has enormous universal appeal. Seen through the prism of one family’s destiny, this is an essential novel about Africa with all of its contradictions: economic, political, and religious; and with the epic beauty of its own culture….. ” you can find the full review here

Here’s what I thought..

The first thing I should say about this incredible work is that it was well written. Like a well composed symphony, the next line falls perfectly in place. And the line after that, and the line after that.

It was “thought provoking” in a way that most fictional books really aren’t. I found myself spending close to hours after I had read the last word in the last chapter, lost in thoughts.
“How did all this happen?”
“Why did it happen?”
“Who was to blame”

I ran through every character in my head again. They were alive to me, they where people I knew, people I had met and interacted with

For me, because I have the attention span of a goldfish and perhaps because I read too quickly, I find it difficult to breathe life into characters in the stories I read. But not this time, this time it came effortlessly.

Then there was the writing style, like a true storyteller. It’s almost like I’m not holding up a book. But I am siting somewhere outdside by a warm fire on a starry night, listening to a seasoned storyteller create life with his words.

It wasn’t a book I had planned to actually read, I just came upon it while I waited for a bus to fill up and decided to pass time with it. But ended up gobbling up all 240 pages of it in less than 50 hours- amidst distractions.


Choosing my three favorite quotes from The Fishermen was insanely difficult. There are so many lines that stood out in my head, I tried to narrow it down to just three and in the end, I failed. But I am okay with it.

Here are my best six quotes from The Fishermen

“I once heard that when fear takes possession of the heart of a person, it diminishes them. This could be said of my brother, for when the fear took possession of his heart, it robbed him of many things – his peace, his well-being, his relationships, his health, and even his faith.” 

“I’d heard someone say that the end of most things often bears a resemblance – even if faint – to their beginnings” 

“Listen, days decay, like food, like fish, like dead bodies. This night will decay, too and you will forget. Listen, we will forget.” 

“That story, as all good stories, planted a seed in my soul and never left me.” 

“Hatred is a leech: The thing that sticks to a person’s skin; that feed off them and drains the sap out of one’s spirit. It changes a person, and does not leave until it has sucked the last drop of peace from them.”

“Our father, the strong man, could not help me; he’d become a tamed eagle with broken claws and a broken beak”

Here’s what I’m trying to say; I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book, not once did I have to force or cajole myself to keep going. I look forward to reading more books by Chigozie Obioma. If you can, find the time to read it too.

I’d love to here your thoughts on it…


*Click here for image source

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Grace Gigi August 24, 2017 - 11:19 am

I don’t care if you’re not a professional at ook reviews. This did it for me. Will look for this book

Tokoni Olobio August 24, 2017 - 4:00 pm

I read this book last year.
It’s dope AF + it was shortlisted for the bloody Man Booker. (That’s a HUGE deal).

When I was done I dropped it, stood up and clapped for minutes. I was alone but if you’d seen me, you’d have thought of securing me a bed at Yaba Left.
You might have been right, it drove me mad!

How did it drive me mad?
1. I like how the curves and twists left us an ending that we could not fathom at the beginning.
2. I like that it is a Coming of Age story and it robbed the characters of all innocence.
3. I like how it is set in a part of Nigeria called Akure that we don’t talk about much.
4. Most importantly, I like how relatable it is in reminding me of growing up with my brothers…and how we could have been swapped with the characters.

My fav quote:
“Hatred is a leech: The thing that sticks to a person’s skin; that feed off them and drains the sap out of one’s spirit. It changes a person, and does not leave until it has sucked the last drop of peace from them.”

Now that you’re done with this, I recommend Elnathan John’s “Born on a Tuesday” then go on to Lola Shoneyin’s “The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wife’s” and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s “Purple Hibiscus” (assuming you haven’t read that) and round up with Helon Habila’s “Measuring Time”
These books are prime African realist fiction.

P. S. You probably didn’t notice but Chigozie Obioma made a lot of animal references in “The Fishermen” from the quote above to the title of chapters.

Jessica Hugo September 1, 2017 - 2:43 am

This sounds so interesting and a must-read. I think you did well reviewing it and I should get a copy too. Great job!


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