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The Resource Born on a Tuesday : a novel, Elnathan John

Born on a Tuesday : a novel, Elnathan John

Label
Born on a Tuesday : a novel
Title
Born on a Tuesday
Title remainder
a novel
Statement of responsibility
Elnathan John
Creator
Author
Subject
Genre
Language
eng
Summary
In the far reaches of northwestern Nigeria, Dantala lives among a gang of street boys that are paid by the Small Party to cause trouble during the election. When their attempt to burn down the opposition's headquarters ends in disaster, Dantala must run for his life, leaving his best friend behind. He ends up at a mosque in a motor park where he soon becomes a favored apprentice to the mosque's Sheikh. He is assigned a roommate name Jibril, and a friendship develops as the boys trade language skills -- Dantala's Arabic for Jibril's English. But when one of the Sheikh's closest advisors begins to raise his own radical movement, Dantala finds himself faced with a terrible conflict of loyalties. As bloodshed erupts in the city around him, he must decide what kind of Muslim -- and what kind of man -- he wants to be
Storyline
Tone
Writing style
Character
Award
School Library Journal Best Books: Best Adult Books 4 Teens, 2016
Review
  • In the far reaches of northwestern Nigeria, Dantala, whose name means “born on Tuesday,” is one of the homeless teenage boys who sleep under the kula tree, but then an altercation with the police sends him fleeing until he finds sanctuary in a nearby mosque. Dantala, who is Muslim, begins working there under the direction of the kind Sheikh, who is the imam. As he grows up, Dantala becomes Sheikh’s deputy. In the meantime, his brothers have become Shiite, enemies of Sheikh’s movement. To further complicate things, Sheikh and his chief assistant have gone separate ways, the assistant founding a mujahideen movement. Violence ensues and escalates until Sheikh is murdered, and Dantala’s world begins to unravel. Dantala’s story is a complex one that almost demands an understanding of Nigerian politics to fully understand. Yet it is surely true that if, as he muses, “all Muslim people are not fighting each other then maybe other kafir people will not have the power over us.” Nigerian author John’s story is an absorbing and sometimes disquieting look inside the contemporary Muslim world. -- Cart, Michael (Reviewed 2/1/2016) (Booklist, vol 112, number 11, p19)
  • After leaving his Koranic training, Dantala is sidetracked and lives on the streets with friends who provide him with "wee-wee" (marijuana). But when his world erupts in violence, Dantala takes shelter in a mosque. The imam, Sheikh Jamal, informally adopts him, and Dantala spends years working with his mentor, learning English, calling prayers, and becoming his official assistant. Northern Nigeria is a violent place—different factions of Islam are at war with one another, and the only constancy is political corruption and savagery. Dantala's naive, sincere teen voice will ring true with young adults, especially as he falls in love and confronts the death of loved ones. Ultimately, this novel, based on the author's award-winning short story, "Bayan Layi," is about the terrors of war and the children who suffer. Dantala may wander down the wrong path, but his religious faith serves as his guide when all hope is lost. Fundamentalism is the antagonist here, and Nigerian author John's beautiful, literary coming-of-age debut will resonate with readers; teens will also come away with a strong understanding of Nigeria and Islam. Pair with Alex Award winner Ishmael Baeh's child soldier memoir A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier for a discussion about choices and redemption. VERDICT A rich and nuanced work for school libraries needing quality contemporary fiction.—Sarah Hill, Lake Land College, Mattoon, IL --Sarah Hill (Reviewed 11/01/2016) (School Library Journal, vol 62, issue 11, p108)
  • /* Starred Review */ This sweeping debut novel by Caine Prize–finalist John is poignant and compelling. In a rural Nigerian community called Bayan Layi, an inquisitive teen named Dantala has joined a group of homeless youths. He must flee, however, when a political election sparks a riot resulting in the death of one of his friends. Dantala goes on a harrowing journey to find his mother, Umma, in Dogon Icce. He inevitably settles in the northwestern city-state of Sokoto, at a mosque headed by Sheikh Jamal and Malam Abdul-Nur Mohammed. Over seven years, Dantala befriends Abdul-Nur’s younger brother, Jibril, and falls in love with the sheikh’s daughter, Aisha. External conflicts surround the protagonist as he grows into a thoughtful and conscientious man. Told through a blend of first-person narration and diary pages, John skillfully employs Dantala’s probing voice to pose crucial questions and explore collisions between modernity and tradition, Arabic and English, rhetoric and action. The narrative depicts political and spiritual division: the nation’s political parties are in heated opposition, and Abdul-Nur’s brutal jihadist movement opposes the sheikh’s peaceful view of Islam. This turmoil echoes the internal conflicts raging inside Dantala. He wrestles with his identity, sexuality, morality, and faith, while struggling to navigate violent clashes that threaten to destroy all he knows and loves. John has written a stunning, important coming-of-age story. Agent: Toby Mundy, Toby Mundy Associates. (May) --Staff (Reviewed 03/07/2016) (Publishers Weekly, vol 263, issue 10, p)
  • As the novel opens, Dantala (whose name means "born on a Tuesday," the book's title, though he is also known as Ahmad) is living on the streets with a group of boys in the Nigerian village where he has been sent by his parents to study the Quran. After a night of violent unrest, Dantala returns home to find his mother mentally ill and the rest of his family either dead or scattered. He finds refuge at a mosque headed by a benevolent sheikh, but a rift grows between Sheikh Jamal's teaching and the more radicalized viewpoint of Malam Abdul-Nur, the mosque's other leader. As he grows up, Dantala must navigate the conflicting moral guidance of his mentors amid a dangerous and violent political and religious climate. This is a coming-of-age story in the tradition of Huckleberry Finn, as Dantala's moral development is often at odds with what the authorities are telling him is "right." It also is a chilling illustration of how religion is all too often used to control those with little education or financial stability. VERDICT For those who can stomach the passages describing horrifying brutality, this is a moving first novel that invites compassion. The ending, while bleak, offers a glimmer of hope. [See Prepub Alert, 12/14/15.] --Christine DeZelar-Tiedman (Reviewed 05/15/2016) (Library Journal, vol 141, issue 9, p67)
  • /* Starred Review */ A Nigerian boy struggles to survive in a violent, disintegrating world. Like the most famous coming-of-age-in-hell story of all, Anne Frank's Diary of a Young Girl, Nigerian lawyer and political commentator John's debut novel makes an old nightmare new by placing a bright, articulate, curious, and endearing young narrator in the midst of it. Dantala Ahmad—his name means "born on a Tuesday"—struggles to learn how the world works, to understand friendship, love, and sex, and to pursue his drive for knowledge and self-expression while living in the thick of wholesale mayhem and death. (Though this is a novel, the acknowledgments explain that the character was inspired by a real person "who will probably never read this book.") Dantala is an almajiri—an Arabic word used in Nigeria for a child who has left his home to study Islam—who gives an account of his life from 2003 to 2010. The opening finds him smoking "wee-wee" with a gang of street kids under a tree—he's been hanging out with them for about two years, since he finished his Quranic training and didn't have the fare for the bus home to his village. Paid to cause trouble during an election, some of the boys are murdered; others scatter. Dantala ends up at a mosque run by a kind, peace-loving imam named Sheikh Jamal. Sheikh recognizes Dantala's intelligence and good nature and makes him a key assistant, managing funds, singing the call to prayer, studying computer skills and English. Some of the most touching, Anne Frank-like portions of the novel are excerpts of a notebook in which Dantala meditates on new vocabulary words like PATRON, GIBBERISH, OBSESS, and WHY, including his thoughts on everything from the bizarre confusions of Islamic sectarianism to his emerging sexuality and burning crush on Sheikh's daughter. As further political conflict erupts, Dantala must battle insanity, ignorance, and brutality in his attempt to find a place in the world. An action-packed, heartbreaking, and eye-opening debut from a great new talent.(Kirkus Reviews, February 15, 2016)
http://library.link/vocab/ext/novelist/bookUI
10488793
Cataloging source
BTCTA
http://library.link/vocab/creatorDate
1982-
http://library.link/vocab/creatorName
John, Elnathan
Dewey number
813
Index
no index present
Literary form
novels
http://library.link/vocab/resourcePreferred
True
http://library.link/vocab/subjectName
  • Religious fundamentalism
  • Gangs
  • Friendship
  • Friendship
  • Gangs
  • Religious fundamentalism
  • Nigeria
  • Nigeria
Label
Born on a Tuesday : a novel, Elnathan John
Instantiates
Publication
Copyright
Carrier category
volume
Carrier category code
  • nc
Carrier MARC source
rdacarrier
Content category
text
Content type code
  • txt
Content type MARC source
rdacontent
Control code
1581303
Dimensions
21 cm
Edition
First edition.
Extent
264 pages
Isbn
9780802124821
Media category
unmediated
Media MARC source
rdamedia
Media type code
  • n
System control number
  • (Sirsi) i9780802124821
  • (OCoLC)922911627
Label
Born on a Tuesday : a novel, Elnathan John
Publication
Copyright
Carrier category
volume
Carrier category code
  • nc
Carrier MARC source
rdacarrier
Content category
text
Content type code
  • txt
Content type MARC source
rdacontent
Control code
1581303
Dimensions
21 cm
Edition
First edition.
Extent
264 pages
Isbn
9780802124821
Media category
unmediated
Media MARC source
rdamedia
Media type code
  • n
System control number
  • (Sirsi) i9780802124821
  • (OCoLC)922911627

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