RADIANCE OF TOMORROW
A haunting, beautiful first novel by the bestselling author of A Long Way Gone.
“Every story begins and ends with a woman, a mother, a grandmother, a girl, a child. Every story is a birth…”
So begins Radiance of Tomorrow, Ishmael Beah's first novel, one dogged by memories of horror but glimmering with an improbable hope. When Beah’s memoir, 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” (Carolyn See, The Washington Post). Now Beah, whom Dave Eggers has called “arguably the most read African writer in contemporary literature,” has returned with an affecting, tender parable about postwar life in those regions of Africa still reeling from conflict.
At the center of Radiance of Tomorrow are Benjamin and Bockarie, two longtime friends who return to their hometown, Imperi, after a devestating civil war. The village is in ruins, the ground covered in bones and drenched in deep despair. The war may be over, but the denizens of Imperi are not spared the dangers that hover over them, menacing as vengeful ghosts. 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. If A Long Way Gone taught us to mourn the crimes of yesterday, Radiance of Tomorrow introduces us to a people who must survive their guilt and accept tomorrow, with all its promise—and radiance.
“I really admire the uncompromising bravery of this book. Ishmael Beah has written a novel that moves between forms—part fable, part family epic, part poem. He doesn't shy away from the horror, nor does he forget that the true function of storytelling is its ability to break our hearts. Reminiscent of Ben Okri and Chinua Achebe, Beah manages to lift the curtain on a world we cannot affort to flinch from.”
—Colum McCann, National Book Award–winning author of TransAlantic and Let the Great World Spin
“Everyone in the world should read this book. Not just because it contains an amazing story, or because it's our moral, bleeding-heart duty, or because it's clearly written. We should read it to learn about the world and about what it means to be human.”
—Carolyn See, The Washington Post
“No outsider could have written this book, and it's hard to imagine that many insiders could do so with such acute vision, stark language, and tenderness. It is a heartrending achievement.”
—Melissa Fay Greene, Elle
“Those seeking to understand the human consequences of war, its brutal and brutalizing costs, would be wise to reflect on Ishmael Beah's story.”
—Chuck Leddy, The Philadelphia Inquirer
Ishmael Beah was born in Sierra Leone in 1980. He came to the United States when he was seventeen and graduated from Oberlin College in 2004. He is a UNICEF Ambassador and Advocate for Children Affected by War, a member of the Human Rights Watch Children's Rights Advisory Committee, and president of the Ishmael Beah Foundation. He lives with his wife in New York City.