In the small Nigerian village of Keti live Mamo and LaMamo, twin sons of a domineering father. When one day the boys try and escape the village, only LaMamo succeeds - and in time becomes a soldier well-versed in the ways of life and death. Mamo, too sickly to leave, remains in Keti finding solace in the arms of Zara while watching impotently as his detested father grows powerful and corrupt. Unable to wield a weapon, Mamo instead reaches for a pen and soon begins to write the true history of Keti and its people - all the time awaiting the return of his beloved brother, LaMamo ...
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Helon Habila is a Nigerian novelist, poet and academic. He is the author of the novels Waiting for an Angel, Measuring Time and Oil on Water, and has won literary prizes including the Caine Prize and the Windham/Campbell Literature Prize. He teaches creative writing at George Mason University, Washington, and his most recent book The Chibok Girls will be published by Penguin Books in April 2017.From Publishers Weekly:
Starred Review. In the late 1970s, twin brothers LaMamo and Mamo Lamang dream of leaving their Nigerian village to find fame and fortune. When they're 16, LaMamo runs away and joins various rebel factions fighting in West Africa, while his sickly brother, Mamo, stays behind with their belligerent father (their mother died in childbirth) and becomes a brilliant student. LaMamo's occasional letters let Mamo live vicariously but, more importantly, lets Habila (Waiting for an Angel) reinforce his work's central message—that the biographies of ordinary individuals provide the real stuff of history. As Mamo becomes the history teacher at a local school, LaMamo actually lives history, meeting Charles Taylor and witnessing the anarchic chaos of West Africa in the 1980s and '90s. Mamo embarks on a career as a chronicler of "biographical history" (modeled on Plutarch's Parallel Lives), beginning with a history of his village and his culture. Like his wayward brother, Mamo witnesses events that force him to examine his conscience. Habila fleshes out the novel with memorable secondary characters—a thuggish cousin, a damaged idealist love interest, an especially Machiavellian bureaucrat. The fresh, brilliant result contrasts cultural traditions with contemporary bureaucracy and reimagines a country through the ordinary and extraordinary experiences of its citizens. (Feb.)
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