Radiance of Tomorrow by Ishmael Beah

Radiance of tomorrow

Author is mostly known for

Ishmael Beah, born on 23 November 1980, is a Sierra Leonean author and human rights activist who rose to fame with his acclaimed memoir, A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier. He moved to the United States in 1998 and finished his last two years of high school at the United Nations International School in New York. In 2004 he graduated from Oberlin College with a B.A. in political science. He is a member of the Human Rights Watch Children’s Rights Division Advisory Committee and has spoken before the United Nations, the Council on Foreign Relations, the Center for Emerging Threats and Opportunities (CETO) at the Marine Corps War fighting Laboratory, and many other NGO panels on children affected by the war. He lives in New York City.

Others publications

  • Beah, Ishmael (2007). A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier. Sarah Crichton Books
  • Beah, Ishmael (2000). When Good Comes From Bad, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation.

Prizes/Awards 

  • A Long Way Gone was nominated for a Quill Award in the Best Debut Author category for 2007.
  • Time magazine’s Lev Grossman named it one of the Top 10 Nonfiction Books of 2007, ranking it at No. 3, and praising it as “painfully sharp”, and its ability to take “readers behind the dead eyes of the child-soldier in a way no other writer has.”
  • UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador for Children Affected by War, Human Rights Activist, former child soldier
  • NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work – Debut Author

Author whereabouts 

He is a Writer based in New-York City.

Excerpt

When Ishmael Beah’s A Long Way Gone was published in 2007, it soared to the top of bestseller lists, becoming an instant classic: a harrowing account of Sierra Leone’s civil war and the fate of child soldiers that “everyone in the world should read” (The Washington Post). Now Beah, whom Dave Eggers has called “arguably the most read African writer in contemporary literature,” has returned with his first novel, an affecting, tender parable about postwar life in Sierra Leone.

At the center of Radiance of Tomorrow are Benjamin and Bockarie, two longtime friends who return to their hometown, Imperi, after the civil war. The village is in ruins, the ground covered in bones. As more villagers begin to come back, Benjamin and Bockarie try to forge a new community by taking up their former posts as teachers, but they’re beset by obstacles: a scarcity of food; a rash of murders, thievery, rape, and retaliation; and the depredations of a foreign mining company intent on sullying the town’s water supply and blocking its paths with electric wires. As Benjamin and Bockarie search for a way to restore order, they’re forced to reckon with the uncertainty of their past and future alike.

With the gentle lyricism of a dream and the moral clarity of a fable, Radiance of Tomorrow is a powerful novel about preserving what means the most to us, even in uncertain times.

Key themes/Topics

  • The perverse consequences of growth and development
  • Reconstruction after war
  • Sierra Leone civil war
  • Corruption
  • Displacement
  • Immigration and Diaspora returnees
  • Chinese influence in Africa

I found strange

Nothing that I can think of.

I found brilliant

The book began with two survivors trying to rebuild the lives they had before the war. Approximately, a third of the book is dedicated to that narrative. People are regaining their confidence, life has become a little more steady. Young men, restless, are starting to look for money, and that’s about when a mining company enters the picture. The company, as it is refer to in the book, is a game-changer in the life of the village. The story shifts, then, towards the perverse effects of development. And I found it beautiful, and, done smoothly and delicately. The first time I noticed the switch in the story I was pissed. I was doing just fine reading after-war stuff, and then new issues, “modern” ones at that, come into the pictures. At first, I didn’t see any links. But there is one link. If we say that development is the only way forward for Africa. Capitalism! well, this book clearly shows us that we need to think again, twice, thrice if needed be. Opening the country for exploitation in the name of development is evil, and, in a sense it is worst than war. Almost. A dominant group of people is exploiting another group of people for a complete access to money and a total control of natural resources that originally belong to all.

The story was just mind-blowing, great twist  towards the middle that will keep you engaged over and over until the end.

What to expect

Two old people survived the war against all odds and found their way back home. A village that was destroyed by child soldiers during the war. They have to clean up human bones scattered all over the village while remembering the loss of family members. Day after day, other survivors start joining them. Because the war was so bloody and savage, being alive in itself could be a curse more than anything. Since you remember all the atrocities you had committed or saw someone you love commit. The village started to be alive again, children are playing and laughing again, old people start sitting, at their usual spot, in the village center, once more. Child soldiers are trying to be normal again. Just when things were starting to feel like a routine, just like before the war, a new evil enters the picture. Money. Sierra Leone, the country where Imperi the village in the novel is located, is rich in natural resources. Gold, minerals you named it. As we all know, countries are damaged after war. They are broke too, they desperately need money to rebuild the country and more importantly feed the population. In this novel,  the government leased huge territories to multinational mining companies all over the country. This measure is initially done to help the country.I would like to think it was the case. Unfortunately, very bad things start to happen. That’s when the readers encounter modern times issues. Pollution, corruption, violation of human rights,poverty, displacement, scarcity, water supply poisoning, environmental issues…etc Like I said before, it is a very sad novel. People end up loosing their livelihood and their places after surviving the war. Excellent book, very on point. I recommend.

Memorable Quotes

We must live in the radiance of tomorrow, as our ancestors have suggested in their tales. For what is yet to come tomorrow has possibilities, and we must think of it, the simplest glimpse of that possibility of goodness. That will be our strength. That has always been our strength.
― Ishmael BeahRadiance of Tomorrow

But what was more violent than making people disbelieve in the worth of their own lives? What was more violent than making them believe they deserved less and less every day?
― Ishmael BeahRadiance of Tomorrow

I learned that you are not free until you stop others from making you feel worthless. Because if you do not, you will eventually accept that you are worthless.
― Ishmael BeahRadiance of Tomorrow

Have you read this book? Please share you thoughts on the comment box below.

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