Beneath the Darkening sky by Majok Tulba

beneath the darkening sky

Beneath the darkening sky by Majok

Australian / Sudanese fiction

Source Review Copy

Beneath the darkening sky was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Book prize .Majok Tulba grew up in Southern Sudan as he says on his website his village was by the waters of the White Nile .When he was nine soldiers from the Sudanese Armed Forces came to his village looking for recruits ,Majok was as it happens an Inch shorter than an AK-47 stood up which was the mark they used to measure up child solders ,he finally fled Sudan aged 16 got a Visa and settled in Australia .He is married with children now and writes and runs a charity and likes to highlight the plight of people in his homeland .I would say have a look at his personnel website which is rather good for a writers site

I think about my last sight of home .Mama and the younger ones clinging to her skirts .Her teeth were chattering .She wasn’t whimpering or crying,she was just trembling with her mouth half-opened and her eyes staring into emptiness of space ,and then she turned and stared into my eyes

Obinna last sight of his home and Mama


Now what would happened if the Nine year old Majok was actually a couple of inches taller when the solders came to his town .Well that is the basis of Beneath the darkening sky ,Obinna is a happy nine-year old when the book opens dreaming of entering primary 6 at school .When his village is over run by soldiers ,They cause damage in the village ,also kill a number of people , then start looking for who to take and its Obinna and his older brother Akot ,This leads the two boys into a dark world were one goes one way and another another Obinna ends up being called Baboons arse  .The story follows the brothers as they struggle to cope with the violent life of the solders ,rank and respect is gained by how many people they killed ,how many women they’ve raped this is a brutal world .How will it turn out ?

From the first ,we had to learn revolution songs , but our morning runs included a different kind of song – not about the revolution and the glorious new world .

A farmer’s daughter tried to run from me 

So I shot her once ,right in the knee

I dragged her into the long grass 

And then I F****d her pretty ass

The violent nature of the solders and their world even makes it into their songs .

Well short and sweet description ,I want you to read this one .As many of you that read the blog will know I usually wait a few weeks before reviewing a book to let it settle  in my mind ,but this book is one , that just needed me to jump ,up and shout about it to you all .But be aware this is a book about a violent world and thankfully Majok has chosen not to sugar coat the pill here ,no a couple of times I almost throw the book away out of sheer horror at what I was reading ,  but then Majok  is a wonderful compelling storytelling writing didn’t make me .I hate the term Page turner because it is such a cliché ,but I  did finish  this book in two sittings . This book does more than news pictures can do ,it brings you down on the ground as we see this horrific world through the eyes of a sacred nine-year old .Majok Tulba is a writer to watch .A heartbreaking insight into the dark side of the Sudan conflict .

17 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. discombobulate62
    Sep 06, 2013 @ 20:26:39

    this does sound an interesting, if horrific read.


  2. Lisa Hill
    Sep 06, 2013 @ 22:31:35

    This is a brilliant book. It won a prize in one of our literary competitions too. Everything you say is true: it’s tough to read, but I think we ought to read books that are a wake-up call for those of us in the privileged west. And it is beautifully written, the humanity of that boy shines through. I reviewed it too (


    • winstonsdad
      Sep 07, 2013 @ 16:05:25

      Yes the main character gives a great insight into this horrific world ,I thought you had reviewed it with him being Australian based now all the best stu


  3. Vishy
    Sep 07, 2013 @ 06:48:51

    Wonderful review of an interesting book, Stu! I don’t think I have ever read a Sudanese author before. I liked very much your thought – “Now what would happened if the Nine year old Majok was actually a couple of inches taller when the solders came to his town .Well that is the basis of Beneath the darkening sky”. It is quite scary to think about what might have happened and it is fascinating that Majok Tulba imagines that in the book. The story looks quite dark to me and I need to be in a brave mood to read it. I will keep it on my wishlist and wait for the right time. Thanks for this wonderful review.


    • winstonsdad
      Sep 07, 2013 @ 16:06:51

      I’ve not on blog have look before for some but never found one in book shops from list of writers I had so this was a pleasant surprise and a great book to read


  4. farmlanebooks
    Sep 07, 2013 @ 12:41:06

    I have a copy of this out of the library out at the moment, but haven’t started it yet. I’m so pleased to see that you enjoyed it so much. I’ll try to get to it soon.


  5. Sudan Hub
    Sep 07, 2013 @ 13:52:50

    Reblogged this on Sudan Hub Foundation .


  6. Brian Joseph
    Sep 07, 2013 @ 14:31:47

    Unfortunately sometimes the terrible things that happen in this world must be brought into the light by authors such as Tulba.

    It sounds as if this is a realistic and powerful illustration of that.


  7. heavenali
    Sep 07, 2013 @ 19:47:56

    It does sound like a powerful fascinating read, just not sure about the brutal content.


  8. Michael @ Literary Exploration
    Sep 09, 2013 @ 00:07:50

    I read this book awhile ago. Such a horrifying novel, it had a good insight into an unfamiliar world but I really did struggle to enjoy this one; it was all too real and that left me feeling unsettled. I know a book being likeable and nice is not how to judge a book, I just felt like this one affected me in a negative way and couldn’t shake the uneasiness it left.


  9. markbooks
    Sep 10, 2013 @ 08:13:35

    This sounds amazing. I will chase it up instantly.


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September 2013


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