From two-time Caine Prize finalist Elnathan John, a dynamic young voice from Nigeria, Born on a Tuesday is a stirring, starkly rendered first novel about a young boy struggling to find his place in a society that is fracturing along religious and political lines.
In far northwestern Nigeria, Dantala lives among a gang of street boys who sleep under a kuka tree. During the election, the boys are paid by the Small Party to cause trouble. When their attempt to burn down the opposition’s local headquarters ends in disaster, Dantala must run for his life, leaving his best friend behind. He makes his way to a mosque that provides him with food, shelter, and guidance. With his quick aptitude and modest nature, Dantala becomes a favored apprentice to the mosque’s sheikh. Before long, he is faced with a terrible conflict of loyalties, as one of the sheikh’s closest advisors begins to raise his own radical movement. When bloodshed erupts in the city around him, Dantala must decide what kind of Muslim—and what kind of man—he wants to be. Told in Dantala’s naïve, searching voice, this astonishing debut explores the ways in which young men are seduced by religious fundamentalism and violence.
Product Details (Amazon):
- Paperback: 256 pages
- Publisher: Grove Press, Black Cat (May 3, 2016)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0802124828
- ISBN-13: 978-0802124821
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 8.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
Born On A Tuesday reveals why men turn to fundamentalism. In certain cultures, it is not uncommon for political parties to hire picketers with a paltry fee in exchange of sowing the seeds of discord and causing mass unrest. The services offered start anywhere from chanting a hackneyed slogan the demonstrators do not believe in to being as serious as vandalism.
Dantala is one of the men who offer such services but unfortunately on one occasion the job goes south and he has to flee as a result of making enemies out of men in high places.
As a citizen of Bangladesh I was able to find similarities in the mindset of the people of Nigeria in the context of the book and that of my own in the sense that those who have been cheated out of a better future by the “leaders” of the country need hope.
They find solace and commiseration in the form of faith. Alas, anyone who even appears to remotely threaten the said faith by challenging one or more of its established viewpoints are labelled blasphemers and struck down from whatever perch they stand on by means of apostasy laws.
It ought to be noted that, this book is highly relevant as the world is at war with radical ideologies. Furthermore, how do these human beings transform from calm-caring- citizens into cantankerous-cruel-compadres? Their environment, early indoctrination, lack of better alternatives to seek hope or a greater purpose in… so before we condemn them we must understand on a fundamental level what drove them on their path of folly.
“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”
― Sun Tzu,
I gave this book 4 stars out of 5. I wish I could establish an empathy link between me and the characters without having to will it. On some books you just connect, you know?