Burma boy by Biyi Bandele

Biyi Bandele is a Nigerian born writer who currently lives in London a playwriter as well he adapted things fall apart for the stage and is considered one of the leading voices of post colonial writing ,he has written a number of novels since the early nineties including the street ,this was his latest published in 2007 by Jonathan Cape .

The book revolves around the story of  farabiti a young thirteen year old lad that joins the army during the second world war and ends up in the jungles of Burma .Where he is involved with the adventurous army commander Wingate a maverick who lead a almost guerlia like war in Burma ,Wingate also appears at the start of the book in a prologue set in Cairo .

This strange man ,dressed in a british army uniform that hung loosely on his shrunken frame ,and wearing a major’s rank was in the grips of a fierce and crippling fever .He shivered under the blistering heat ,his teeth clattering as if he were in the deep chill of an english winter ‘s day .

an introduction to Wingate .

The story reaches a huge battle in a large fortified place called the white city . Against the hard fighting unforgiving Japanese forces .

What Biyi has done is wonderfully brought to life part of his own family history as his father also fought in the second world war in the Burma campaign ,the book brings many different voices from Nigeria as we meet other characters in the unit .The story is reasonably well paced and maybe drags in a couple of places ,but the true beauty is a heartfelt tale of the African experiences in the second world war ,which to a large degree have been overlooked in the past .

This was meant to be part of Amy reads Nigerian challenge last month but I ran out of time to review it in June ,The book’s title in the US is” the Kings rifles” .

Winston’s score –

lion cub fierce and independent like farbiti in the jungles of Burma .

July 2010


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