When ten-year-old Birahima's mother dies, he leaves his native village in the Ivory Coast, accompanied by the sorcerer and cook Yacouba, to search for his aunt Mahan. Crossing the border into Liberia, they are seized by rebels and forced into military service. Birahima is given a Kalashnikov, minimal rations of food, a small supply of dope and a tiny wage. Fighting in a chaotic civil war alongside many other boys, Birahima sees death, torture, dismemberment and madness but somehow manages to retain his own sanity. Raw and unforgettable, despairing yet filled with laughter, Allah Is Not Obliged reveals the ways in which children's innocence and youth are compromised by war.
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"Starred Review. Although Birahima's regurgitation of word definitions and chunks of West African history is awkward, this French import is a worthy if difficult read." - PW.
"As eye-catching as graffiti, but lacking the emotional power of Uzodinma Iweala's Beasts of No Nation" - Kirkus.
"A tour de force original, irreverent, brutal, funny, poetic in which history and myth are brilliantly evoked." - The Independent (London).
"This is one of the funniest, most powerful, most intense novels to appear in French for a decade." - Le Nouvel Observateur (Paris).
"Shocking and deeply moving. . . . . An African Lord of the Flies." -The Guardian (London).
"Witty and wholly authentic. . . . Spellbinding. . . . Kourouma has been likened to Voltaire. . . Gabriel García Márquez also comes to mind, likewise John Updikes sparkling ventriloquism." - The Spectator (London).
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Paperback original (in the USA, hardcover in the UK in 2006); first published in French in 2000. This is Ivory Coast author and political activist Kourouma's fourth novel. He died in 2003 at the age of 76.
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