BookBrowse Reviews The King's Rifle by Biyi Bandele

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The King's Rifle

A Novel

by Biyi Bandele

The King's Rifle by Biyi Bandele
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     Not Yet Rated
  • Paperback:
    Apr 2009, 224 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Kim Kovacs

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A powerful first novel that depicts the experiences of black African soldiers fighting in Burma in WWII

The King's Rifle has a rather disjointed beginning that readers may find off-putting. It begins with a prologue that, while based on fact and relevant to the history of the Chindits, has little to do with the rest of the novel. The two or three chapters that follow strike the reader as somewhat rambling, with the narrative touching on multiple subjects, stream-of-consciousness style. It's a disorderly approach, and readers may have difficulty orienting themselves at first. It is worth persevering, however, as those who read on will discover both an exceptional historical fiction novel and a powerful coming-of-age story.

Bandele's background as a playwright is evident throughout the book. Indeed, much of the novel reads like a play. Most of the action is advanced through dialogue, and readers come to know "soja" Ali Banana and his cohorts through their inner musings...

About the Author
Biyi Bandele is an award-winning novelist, playwright, and director. He was born in Kafachan, Nigeria, in 1967, the son of a veteran of the Burma campaign. In 2006 he was named by the UK newspaper The Independent as one of Africa's fifty greatest artists. He lives in London.


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