Summary and book reviews of Speak No Evil by Uzodinma Iweala

Speak No Evil

by Uzodinma Iweala

Speak No Evil by Uzodinma Iweala X
Speak No Evil by Uzodinma Iweala
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Mar 2018, 224 pages
    Paperback:
    Mar 5, 2019, 224 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Norah Piehl

Buy This Book

About this Book

Book Summary

In the long-anticipated novel from the author of the critically acclaimed Beasts of No Nation, a revelation shared between two privileged teenagers from very different backgrounds sets off a chain of events with devastating consequences.

On the surface, Niru leads a charmed life. Raised by two attentive parents in Washington, D.C., he's a top student and a track star at his prestigious private high school. Bound for Harvard in the fall, his prospects are bright. But Niru has a painful secret: he is queer - an abominable sin to his conservative Nigerian parents. No one knows except Meredith, his best friend, the daughter of prominent Washington insiders - and the one person who seems not to judge him.

When his father accidentally discovers Niru is gay, the fallout is brutal and swift. Coping with troubles of her own, however, Meredith finds that she has little left emotionally to offer him. As the two friends struggle to reconcile their desires against the expectations and institutions that seek to define them, they find themselves speeding toward a future more violent and senseless than they can imagine. Neither will escape unscathed.

In the tradition of Junot Diaz's The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's Americanah, Speak No Evil explores what it means to be different in a fundamentally conformist society and how that difference plays out in our inner and outer struggles. It is a novel about the power of words and self-identification, about who gets to speak and who has the power to speak for other people. As heart-wrenching and timely as his breakout debut, Beasts of No Nation, Uzodinma Iweala's second novel cuts to the core of our humanity and leaves us reeling in its wake.

Part I
NIRU
1

The snow starts to fall just before Ms. McConnell's Global Literatures class. It is light at first and hangs in the air, refusing to stick to anything, and instead hovers about the bare tree branches shivering outside. I sit down across from the window with my back to the door like the rest of the boys. We all sit close to the door because of the walk across the Cathedral lawn to get to class and because no one wants to be the sole male body surrounded by girls. It never pays to seem like you're trying too hard. Ms. McConnell watches us remove our jackets and place our books on the desks. After the first week of the semester, she gave up on asking us to settle in quickly. Now she waits with one fist gripping her pen and the other resting on her hip until we're ready.

I can't pay attention because Meredith isn't paying attention. She always sits directly across from me with her back to the window and the row of pine trees blocking the view to ...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Speak No Evil leaves readers with many unanswered questions, but not because of any failure on the part of the narrative or its author. Instead, the questions that will remain with readers are deliberate and sobering - questions that will provoke contemplation or discussion, as readers ponder what might have been or, for some characters, what might still be possible.   (Reviewed by Norah Piehl).

Full Review Members Only (458 words).

Media Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. In Uzodinma's staggering sophomore novel (after Beasts of No Nation), the untimely disclosure of a secret… sets off a cascade of heartbreaking consequences… The revelation of what happened… is devastating and speaks volumes about white heterosexual privilege

Booklist
Starred Review. In his third book [second novel], Iweala - author of the multiple-award-winning novel Beasts of No Nation (2005) and Our Kind of People (2012), a nonfiction book about people living with AIDS in Nigeria - delivers with immediate poignancy Niru's struggles between rejecting his parents' constrictions and yearning for them; between embracing his sexuality and believing there's a cure for it, and that it should be cured at all…Portraying cross-generational and - cultural misunderstandings with anything but simplicity, Iweala tells an essential American story.

Library Journal
Starred Review. Iweala unwinds crucial issues of choice and the burden of playing multiple parts; says Niru, 'It's too confusing for me to live all these lives when I want only one.' Throughout a narrative spiraling toward tragedy, Niru's pain is so palpable it will make you gasp. Highly recommended.

Author Blurb Gary Shteyngart
A lovely slender volume that packs in entire worlds with complete mastery. Speak No Evil explains so much about our times and yet is never anything less than a scintillating, page-turning read.

Author Blurb Larissa MacFarquhar
A wrenching, tightly woven story about many kinds of love and many kinds of violence. Speak No Evil probes deeply but also with compassion the cruelties of a loving home. Iweala's characters confront you in close-up, as viscerally, bodily alive as any in contemporary fiction.

Reader Reviews

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book

The Nigerian Civil War

Biafra MapIn Speak No Evil, Uzodinma Iweala's protagonist, Niru, says that his father "reminds us constantly that if he could walk ten miles to get sardines and tinned tomatoes for his family during the war, dodging low-flying Nigerian fighter plans that made a sport of strafing hungry refugees, then there is nothing he or we can't do." The war to which Niru's father refers, the reason why he emigrated from Nigeria to the United States, was the Nigerian Civil War of 1967 to 1970, also known as the Biafran War.

The conflict was precipitated when the state of Biafra, dominated by the Igbo but including other ethnic groups, declared its intention to secede. Tensions between the Igbo people and the Nigerian government had been ...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Readalikes

Readalikes Full readalike results are for members only

If you liked Speak No Evil, try these:

  • Under the Udala Trees jacket

    Under the Udala Trees

    by Chinelo Okparanta

    Published 2016

    About this book

    Inspired by Nigeria's folktales and its war, Under the Udala Trees is a deeply searching, powerful debut about the dangers of living and loving openly.

  • We Need New Names jacket

    We Need New Names

    by NoViolet Bulawayo

    Published 2014

    About this book

    Darling is only 10 years old, and yet she must navigate a fragile and violent world. But Darling has a chance to escape: she has an aunt in America

Non-members are limited to two results. Become a member
Search Readalikes again
How we choose readalikes
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: American Prison
    American Prison
    by Shane Bauer
    After spending over two years in Iran's notorious Evin Prison for supposedly crossing the country's ...
  • Book Jacket: Small Fry
    Small Fry
    by Lisa Brennan-Jobs
    Small Fry is the debut memoir from Lisa Brennan-Jobs, long-time journalist and writer, and oldest ...
  • Book Jacket: The Winter Soldier
    The Winter Soldier
    by Daniel Mason
    Imagine the thousands of confounding cases doctors face routinely for which diagnoses are hard to ...
  • Book Jacket: Brother
    Brother
    by David Chariandy
    Brother is the brief, moving account of how a single, tragic moment in time can alter the course of ...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The Removes by Tatjana Soli

A powerful, transporting novel about the addictive intensity and freedom of the American frontier.

About the book
Join the discussion!

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Sold on a Monday
    by Kristina McMorris

    An unforgettable novel inspired by a stunning piece of history.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win The Clockmaker's Daughter

The Clockmaker's Daughter by Kate Morton

A rich, spellbinding new novel from the author of The Lake House. On sale Oct 9.

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

T Turn T S

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.