Song for Night: A Novella

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By Chris Abani

"Not seeing that Jerzy Kosinski’s The Painted Bird or Agota Kristof’s workstation Trilogy has there been this kind of harrowing novel approximately what it’s prefer to be a teen in a conflict. That Chris Abani is ready to locate humanity, mercy, or even, certain, forgiveness, amid such devastation is whatever of a miracle.”—Rebecca Brown, writer of The finish of Youth

"The second you input those pages, you step right into a appealing and terrifying dream. you're within the arms of a grasp, a literary shaman. Abani casts his spell so completely—so devastatingly—you emerge cleansed, redeemed, and completely haunted."—Brad Kessler, writer of Birds in Fall

Part Inferno, half Paradise Lost, and half Sunjiata epic, Song for Night is the tale of a West African boy soldier’s lyrical, terrifying, but attractive trip during the nightmare panorama of a brutal warfare looking for his misplaced platoon. The reader is led by way of the unvoiced protagonist who, as a part of a land mine-clearing platoon, had his vocal chords reduce, a stream to maintain those little ones from screaming while blown up, and thereby distracting the opposite minesweepers. The publication is written in a ghostly voice, with each one bankruptcy headed via a line of the original signal language those childrens invented. This publication is not like anything ever written approximately an African war.

Chris Abani is a Nigerian poet and novelist and the writer of The Virgin of Flames, Becoming Abigail (a New York Times Editor’s Choice), and GraceLand (a collection of the Today Show publication membership and winner of the 2005 PEN/Hemingway Prize and the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award). His different prizes contain a PEN Freedom to write down Award, a Prince Claus Award, and a Lannan Literary Fellowship. He lives and teaches in California.

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It's the dust: black soot from every little thing burning, dirt and the loam of the woodland, unwashed intercourse, blood and cordite, smoke, plant and grass stains, and dust for sweat. all of it congeals right into a moment dermis that also itches with its newness, like Adam should have felt as God first clothed his bare soul. whilst my fingernails rake, they first draw back thick flakes of it, then with repetition and elevated strain, epidermis, then extra blood. I cease by way of the river and lightweight a cigarette. As i glance round, the spot turns out wide-spread. it truly is made special by means of the large tree with vibrant purple flora that we name flame of the woodland. They seldom develop this with reference to a river, who prefer to conceal deeper within the woodland the place hunters and startled villagers stumble upon its flame and are awed by way of it. It should have been years due to the fact that we stopped right here. again then the conflict was once purely months outdated and that i used to be nonetheless twelve happening 13 and excited that my pubic hair was once commencing to develop out. That’s the way you knew you have been a man—pubic hair, then armpit hair, then facial hair. We had made a cease to relaxation, the complete troop, vultures and all; plus a protracted educate of refugees who had hooked up themselves to us considering shall we preserve them secure. I had no thought the place we have been, yet I didn’t care. It was once all nonetheless new sufficient to be fascinating. Even then, the airborne dirt and dust was once frustrating and the vultures particularly. That band of infantrymen who needed to count number the lifeless have been already within the river attempting to wash. My platoon and that i have been mendacity within the coloration of the flame of the wooded area, and from that safeguard I regarded round me. Accompanying the refugees have been a few nuns—probably Irish, it gave the impression of the entire Catholics the following were—and all of them wore that tight-lipped glance that years of putting up with Catholicism bestows at the pious, with the exception of one in every of them. She used to be wandering round with a curious smile on her face. She regarded unhinged. We became and peered at one another after which again on the nun. We guessed that for her the dust used to be extra bearable than the particles that had doubtless accumulated in her brain, befuddling her. It used to be early on within the conflict, whilst the horrors have been nonetheless new sufficient to unhinge first rate humans. We watched her wander over to an outcrop of rock overlooking the river. She stood there awhile, the entranced smile on her face, after which by surprise she leapt off. From that top the fast-flowing water less than will be stable sufficient to knock her out and drag her lower than, supplying her into the sea. For a second although, it gave the look of she used to be suspended in midair like an important black crow, her behavior flapping like offended wings, ahead of she disappeared, forsaking a piercing scream. Ijeoma shook her head. She was once the 1st to talk: telepathy this time. “The chook who made the area was once like that. a huge black factor with a white beak, and it flew over the face of the darkish waters; it’s screeching the 1st sound in God’s reminiscence, waking construction. similar to that. ” We lit cigarettes, the full platoon in a single synchronized yet unrehearsed flow, twenty people in these days, and we sighed in a collective out-breath of smoke prior to returning to scratching from the airborne dirt and dust.

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