Radiance of Tomorrow

Minerals are found under a small town in central Sierra Leone and the mining company moves the residents to a new town a few miles away, where their nice traditional homes are replaced with small adobe huts. The water is ruined, so most move to the capital city where they must struggle to find work, housing and transportation amid rampant corruption. A sign posted by the dirty police/tax collectors ironically reads: “Say no to corruption! Corruption is a punishable crime!” And, there’s the oppressive humidity. What stands out about Ishael Beah’s writing in Radiance of Tomorrow—his debut novel—is the incredible imagistic language: The night rolled over and changed its sides; The word for ball in Mende is “nest of air, or a vessel that carries air.”; … geologists (those who speak to the ground to find what it has to give to the living); etc. Only 33, the young Sierra Leone-born writer’s authoritative voice comes both from having lived through some of the area’s turmoil (which he recounted in his celebrated 2007 memoir, A Long Way Gone) and from possessing what comes across to the reader as an old soul. Highly recommended!