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An Orchestra of Minorities

by Chigozie Obioma

Literary Fiction Modern and Contemporary Fiction Sharing Diverse Voices Star Books

LoveReading View on An Orchestra of Minorities

At once sweeping and intricate, this dazzling second novel by the author of Booker-shortlisted The Fishermen is stage-managed by an enthralling mythic narrative voice, an Igbo spirit whose physical host is our main protagonist, Chinonso.

Chinonso and Ndali are fated from their first encounter when he persuades her not to throw herself to her death. They meet again and fall passionately in love but coming from wildly different worlds - he a chicken farmer, she wealthy and highly educated - their relationship is slammed by Ndali’s powerful family. Though humiliated by them, and advised by his uncle and friends to forget this apparently impossible love, Chinonso persists, taking monumental steps to improve his chance of being accepted as a suitable husband for Ndali. Far away, in an unfamiliar land, he’s faced with the despair of betrayal, then offered a fortifying hand of hope, “the rope that pulls a drowning man out of the deep sea and hauls him on to the deck of a boat”. Excruciatingly, though, he’s never far from the battering blows of fate.

Brutally tragic, this raw and rich tale tells of the all-consuming nature of love, the perilous rising ripples of revenge and desperation, and the cost of holding on. It’s an acutely affecting storytelling masterwork.

Joanne Owen

An Orchestra of Minorities Synopsis

SHORTLISTED FOR THE BOOKER PRIZE 2019

From the author of the Booker-shortlisted novel, The Fishermen.

FINANCIAL TIMES BEST BOOKS OF 2019

'Obioma is truly the heir to Chinua Achebe' New York Times

'A major new African writer' Salman Rushdie

'A profoundly humane epic love story' Booker Prize Judges 2019

A young farmer named Chinonso prevents a woman from falling to her death. Bonded by this strange night on the bridge, he and Ndali fall in love, but it is a mismatch according to her family who reject him because of his lowly status. Is it love or madness that makes Chinonso think he can change his destiny?

Set across Nigeria and Cyprus, An Orchestra of Minorities, written in the mythic style of the Igbo tradition, weaves a heart-wrenching tale about fate versus free will.

'A spectacular artistic leap' Guardian

'Brilliantly original' The Economist

'A remarkable talent' Independent

'Few contemporary novels achieve the seductive panache of Obioma's heightened language, with its mixture of English, Igbo and colourful African-English phrases, and the startling clarity of the dialogue. The story is extreme; yet its theme is a bid for mercy for that most fragile of creatures - a human' Eileen Battersby, Guardian

An Orchestra of Minorities Press Reviews

Narrated by a chi, a guardian spirit in Igbo myth, this novel follows Nonso, an ambitious Nigerian graduate who becomes trapped in Cyprus after falling for an education scam - Guardian

Intoxicating - Daily Mail

Pungently real - The Times

[A] rich, rewarding book - Financial Times (Best Books of 2019)

In his ambitious follow-up, longlisted for this year's Booker prize, Chigozie Obioma scales up the canvas from tragic to epic, with the Odyssey-like tale of a man adrift from himself and from modern Nigeria - Daily Telegraph

Transcendent . . . Chigozie Obioma's second novel is a rare treasure: a book that deepens the mystery of the human experience - Seattle Times

A modern love story that painstakingly examines despair, destiny and human determination . . . The writing is lyrical in places, knife-sharp in others . . . My advice is just to dive straight in - Irish Times

I predict it will be one of the most talked about books of next year. It certainly deserves to be. It surprised me most because it's a challenging read - it is set in Nigeria and the author uses a combination of English, Nigerian Pidgin and untranslated Igbo - and yet it is still a very compelling and emotionally-stimulating story. I couldn't put it down - Bustle

Invoke[s] older traditions and instances of storytelling and recasts them in a contemporary world, bringing to the fore the experiences and pressures of movement and migration - Guardian

Gorgeously written, with a twist of magical realism and a heavy dose of sad reality, this is your big novel of the winter - Washington Post

A boundary-breaking love story - Daily Mail

A fast-moving romantic tragicomedy . . . It tells the heartbreaking story of a lovestruck Nigerian chicken farmer called Chinonso in present-day Nigeria, who sacrifices everything to win the heart of the woman he loves - Independent

Unforgettable second novel . . . Obioma's novel is electrifying, a meticulously crafted character drama told with emotional intensity. His invention, combining Igbo folklore and Greek tragedy in the context of modern Nigeria, makes for a rich, enchanting experience - Publishers Weekly

Perspectives in this novel change at the flap of a wing, darting between the earthly and the supernatural realms, between grand, atemporal ideas and tiny local details, in fluent prose that marries Igbo, pidgin and English . . . This book has both the singular inevitability of classical tragedy and the pellucid sense of injustice found in Chinua Achebe's fiction - Literary Review

Igbo cosmology, classical western literature and the bitter pressures of globalisation combine for a visionary perspective on migration and the individual's place in the world - Guardian

The Fishermen was an elegiac state-of-the-nation drama that fused Greek tragedy with Nigerian folklore . . . For his follow-up, Obioma scales up the canvas from tragic to epic, with the Odyssey-like tale of a man adrift from himself and from modern Nigeria - Telegraph

Unforgettable . . . A mesmerising page-turner - Image Magazine

Heartbreaking and utterly unique - Vulture (Books You Should Read This January)

A modern take on Homer's The Odyssey, this Nigerian love story is filled with plot twists that demonstrate the power of persistence - Essence

There's no sign of difficult second novel syndrome here: this is a continent-spanning magical-realist tale of star-crossed love . . . intoxicating - Daily Mail

Destined to become a classic - HelloGiggles

Obioma expands his canvas from the tragic to the epic - Daily Telegraph

The chances that Chigozie Obioma's second novel would match, let alone surpass, The Fishermen were slim. Happily, his follow-up, AN ORCHESTRA OF MINORITIES, is a triumph. . . . In an era of copycats, An Orchestra of Minorities is an unusual and brilliantly original book - Economist

Fans of Ben Okri will enjoy Obioma's spirited dedication to remembering old beliefs as western modernity encroaches, and the world he creates is pungently real - The Times

A twist on The Odyssey - [An Orchestra of Minorities is] narrated by a guardian spirit, traversing earth and space, but grounded in the universal themes of love, ambition and loss - Buzzfeed (Most Anticipated Books of 2019

An Orchestra of Minorities is a stunning novel which succeeds on so many levels. This time around Obioma deserves every accolade that comes his way - The UAE National

Chigozie Obioma is a gifted and original storyteller. His masterful new novel An Orchestra of Minorities is remarkable for its exploration of universal concepts to do with destiny, free will and luck - Jennifer Clement, National Book Award-longlisted author of Gun Love, President of PEN International

Chigozie Obioma pens a deeply empathetic, complex and gut-wrenchingly human narrative that captures the heart and soul. An Orchestra of Minorities stays with you. With remarkable style and compelling language, he explores what it means to experience blinding love and devastating loss. A truly gifted writer, Obioma has proven yet again that he's a literary treasure - Nicole Dennis-Benn, award-winning author of Here Comes the Sun

An ambitious and immersive tale about love and sacrifice, told by an ancient spirit. A bold new novel from an exciting young writer - Brit Bennett, author of The Mothers

Every so often - but not often enough - a book comes around to blow away the cobwebs and forget what it means to read a truly immersive story. Chigozie Obioma's An Orchestra Of Minorities is just that - The Pool

An Orchestra of Minorities is a magisterial accomplishment by any measure, and particularly impressive for the way Obioma orchestrates a tableau in which humans and spirits must interact in a complex, emotionally rich-veined story. Few writers can match Obioma's astonishing range, his deft facility for weaving a mesmeric and triumphant fictive canvas in which - reminiscent of the ancient masters - a cohort of gods presides over and negotiates the fates of humans - Okey Ndibe, author of Foreign Gods, Inc.

Intricately wrought . . . a powerful, multifarious novel that underlines Obioma's status as one of the most exciting voices in modern African literature - FT

An Orchestra of Minorities is a triumph: a wholly unsentimental epic that unspools smoothly over nearly a decade, it is set with equal success across two continents, employing myth and spirituality to create a vibrant new world . . . an unusual and brilliantly original book - The Economist

A tale of mythic nature and epic scale at times recalling Homer's Odyssey - a sweeping story about destiny and the power of choice - Vanity Fair

Obioma has a masterful way with words - The Herald

Almost every page [of An Orchestra of Minorities] trumpets the gifts of a writer who can make his language soar, wheel and pounce - Spectator

An acute, tender, painful and sometimes darkly funny story . . . about love, aspiration, betrayal, greed, dishonesty and the tribulations that the innocent and trusting may suffer -- Allan Massie - The Scotsman

Obioma fashions an allegory of post-independence Nigeria and the cruelties of the contemporary world . . . West Africa, with its pantheon of animist divinities and juju lore, is unforgettably evoked. You can almost smell the hot strong breath of the land in this brave gallimaufry of Greek myth and pre-colonial Igbo cosmology - Evening Standard

Rich and vivid . . . Obioma's absorbing tragicomedy painfully probes the perils of victimhood -- Anthony Cummins - Observer (New Review)

Obioma's frenetically assured second novel is a spectacular artistic leap forwards . . . [it is] a linguistically flamboyant, fast-moving, fatalistic saga of one man's personal disaster . . . Few contemporary novels achieve the seductive panache of Obioma's heightened language, with its mixture of English, Igbo and colourful African-English phrases, and the startling clarity of the dialogue. The story is extreme; yet its theme is a bid for mercy for that most fragile of creatures - a human -- Eileen Battersby - Guardian

Told in the wise and watchful, sometimes mischievous voice of the 'chi' or Igbo spirit guardian of Chinonso, a poor poultry farmer, this is a profoundly humane epic love story. Loosely based on the Odyssey, the trials and joys of Chinonso's journey exert a powerful hold on the reader's imagination, head and heart. A magnificent, original and revelatory novel - Booker Prize Judges 2019

[An] impressive, epic second novel . . . Timely, portentous and powerful, [An Orchestra of Minorities] confirms Chigozie Obioma's remarkable talent -- Lucy Scholes - iNews

A crucial journey into a heartache that is both mythical and real -- Booker Prize Judges 2019 Brilliantly intertwining the human and spirit worlds. A major new African writer -- Salman Rushdie (Amazon Book Review)

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All versions of this book

ISBN: 9780349143187
Publication date: 13/08/2019
Publisher: Abacus an imprint of Little, Brown Book Group
Format: Paperback

ISBN: 9781408710807
Publication date: 17/01/2019
Publisher: Little, Brown an imprint of Little, Brown Book Group
Format: Hardback

Book Information

ISBN: 9780349143187
Publication date: 13th August 2019
Author: Chigozie Obioma
Publisher: Abacus an imprint of Little, Brown Book Group
Format: Paperback
Pagination: 528 pages
Genres: Literary Fiction, Modern and Contemporary Fiction, Diverse Voices, Star Books,
Categories: Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945),

About Chigozie Obioma

Chigozie Obioma was born in 1986 in Akure, Nigeria, and currently lives in the United States. He is an assistant professor of Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. His debut novel, The Fishermen, is winner of the inaugural FT/Oppenheimer Award for Fiction, the NAACP Image Awards for Debut Literary Work, and the Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction (Los Angeles Times Book Prizes); and was a finalist for the Man Booker Prize 2015, as well as for several other prizes in the US and UK. Obioma was named one of Foreign Policy's 100 Leading Global Thinkers of 2015.

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