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Booker Prize 2019 Shortlist: Orchestra of Minorites by Chigozie Obioma


The first time in 5 years that an African writer has made the shortlist.

Book Worm’s Thoughts: I loved the first 3rd of this book but the rest of it went down hill and just ended up depressing me.

Why this could win: Interesting narrator. Interesting blend of Igbo folklore and retelling of the Odyssey.

Why it might not win: It is a difficult book to enjoy and there is no redemption for the central character.

Anita’s Thoughts: This book is one I opted not to read.  It sounds like magical realism, a genre I don’t like, so I think the chance I would like it is nil.

Why this could win: Honestly, no idea.

Why it might not win:  I have yet to see one review by an actual reader that really sang the praises of this story.

Nicole’s Thoughts:  While I personally didn’t love this book, it has merits.  I just wish it hadn’t been do damned depressing.

Why this could win:  Good writing, good story telling, acclaimed author.  I think it’s got a real shot.

Why it might not win: Such an uber downer

Tracy’s Thoughts:  This was just weird. It is a retelling of the Odyssey- with an African mythology bent. I liked the story and the plot, but I had a hard time following it.

Why this could win:  Retellings have been huge lately. This may follow in that trend.

Susie’s Thoughts: I tried three times and ultimately decided to DNF this one, being completely unable to connect with the narrative.

Why this could win: The literary skill of recreating the Odyssey in a Nigerian setting grabs attention.

Why it might not win: It seems that the common reader is finding it really hard to like.

Lisa’s Thoughts:  I listened to about one quarter of this book.  I chose not to continue to listen, for a few reasons.  This was enough to have a good sense of the writing style and rhythm of the book. Reading other reviews, I have a sense of where the plot of the book is going. And, I was continually annoyed by the main character and his view of women and how women were portrayed in the book in general. I thought the rest of the book would just be more of the same. I recently read Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi, another Nigerian author.  Both books wove elements from Nigerian culture and religion and mythology into the development of the main character’s psyche and experience. However, I liked Freshwater much more.

All of this said, because I did not finish Orchestra of Minorities, it is possible I am missing something that makes it brilliant.

Why this could win: The interweaving of Nigerian religion and mythology is interesting. The book is told from the point of view of the main character’s spirit or chi.

Why it might not win: I did not find it to be engaging. I got bored of some of the chi’s repetitive phrases: “I have seen it many times…”



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