Song for Night

Chris Abani, Author . Akashic $12.95 (164p) ISBN 978-1-933354-31-6

In his latest novella, Abani renders the inner voice of mute 15-year-old My Luck, the boy leader of a platoon of mine sweepers in an unnamed war-torn African country. When he was 12, the then volunteer rebel had his vocal cords severed (the rest of his team received the same treatment), “so that we wouldn't scare each other with our death screams.” At the opening of the novella, My Luck awakens after an explosion to find that he has been separated from his unit. During his journey to find his platoon, he reflects on the events of his violent life. Abani is unafraid to evoke My Luck's dark side, and though My Luck's experience with killing is “a singular joy that is perhaps rivaled only by an orgasm,” his stock-taking also touches on guilt at witnessing his mother's murder, ambivalence about his imam father and tenderness for Ijeoma, a girl in his platoon killed by a mine. Initially, the present-tense narration is at odds with My Luck's inclination toward memory and reflection, but the story becomes more immersive and dreamlike (and, strangely, lucid) over the course of My Luck's quest. Abani finds in his narrator a seed of hope amid the bleak, nihilistic terrain. (Sept.)

Reviewed on: 06/25/2007
Release date: 09/01/2007
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