Ishmael Beah

If you think you’ve experienced the worst that a human being can bear, Ishmael Beah will show you how very wrong you are. Then, remarkably, he’ll share his hope for better and leave you feeling restored.

In Radiance of Tomorrow — just in case you didn’t get it, radiance = hope — Beah tells the story of several inhabitants of a small town called Imperi in the African nation of Lion Mountain (Sierra Leone) after they return home following a long, horrific civil war that has taken so many of the members of their family, their neighbors, and friends. After a brief, almost idyllic time home in Imperi, the real trouble starts. And therein lies the tale.

Let Ishmael Beah tell you the story. Suffice it to say here that this novel encompasses a wide range of African experiences during the period following decolonization, conveying the terror, the injustice, and the disappointment as well as the optimism that swept throughout the region below the Sahara over the past half-century. Read this book, and you’ll gain a foothold on understanding life in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Radiance of Tomorrow by Ishmael Beah (2014) 257 pages ★★★★★ 

Beah etches his characters on the reader’s mind. His prose sings, infused with the rhythms of the seven languages he speaks. Children and elders alike leap from the page fully formed, with vivid personalities and wholly understandable motives.

In a sense, Radiance of Tomorrow is a story about story-telling. Beah brings to life the oral tradition of West Africa and spotlights its central role in village society.

Radiance of Tomorrow is Beah’s first novel. It arrives seven years after his widely acclaimed memoir of his days as a child soldier, A Long Way Gone.

For further reading

This is one of 20 top books about Africa, including both fiction and nonfiction.

For a review of another novel about civil war in Africa, go to A brilliant novel of love, hope, and the Rwanda genocide.

This book is also one of Top 10 great popular novels reviewed on this site.

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