Such a Beautiful Thing to Behold By Umar Turaki
Book/Novel Author: Umar Turaki
Book/Novel Title: Such a Beautiful Thing to Behold
An inexplicable sickness. A small town cut off from the world. An unexpected community of survivors forges a family out of the despair, struggling against things known and unknown for survival and hope.A mysterious plague known as the Grey grips the small village of Pilam, which the world has quarantined without pity. Laying waste to Pilam’s residents, the sickness saps its victims of strength, drains the color from their eyes, and kills all promise. Only the young are immune. But beyond the barricades and walls of soldiers—the manifestation of a nation’s terror—there are rumors of a cure. Dunka, the eldest son of a family reeling from the Grey, takes on the daunting task of leaving Pilam to find that cure for his siblings and save them before it’s too late. His brother and sisters, however, have plans of their own. Navigating the chaos of violence, hunger, and death, each of them tries to make sense of the bleak circumstances, forging new bonds with other juvenile survivors left to their own devices. Now an unlikely family of six, they choose their own perilous paths, at first separately and then together, coming to terms with the decisions they make and the ghosts they cannot leave behind.Umar Turaki’s gripping novel is a story of survival, love, and the human spirit’s tenacious capacity for wonder.
Writer Umar Turaki is Nigerian. He was educated in Canada, and has since emigrated to British Columbia. He’s an award winning writer and producer of television shows in Nigeria, and this book, Such a Beautiful Thing to Behold, has also been on the short list for awards. It’s the story of a small village that is infected with a disease called The Grey, which spreads through the adult population, killing them, but spares the children. Trapped and cut off from the rest of the world by a guarded barricade, things look bleak for one family, as the two brothers and two sisters try to forge their way after the death of their parents. Hope, inspiration, survival, and guilt are all themes the individuals deal with as they decide if they can forge ahead, or if they should give up and die. The writing is clearly done by someone who is not North American. It has the sound and rhythm of an educated foreigner. (It feels like a work translated to English from another language, but there is no credit given to a translator, so I think not.) The characters are incredibly well developed and sympathetic. The reader can easily identify with what they are going through. The storyline itself is dramatic and thrilling. There are many holes left to interpretation. There is no particular time setting. It seems both modern and old, with rustic, third-world living conditions, yet hints of advanced technology. There is no place setting either. It seems like a rural, third world country, perhaps Africa, but it is never mentioned. It’s like an imaginary place and time, surrounded by a fog that separates it from the real world. In many ways that makes the book feel like a delicious fantasy novel. In some ways, it makes it hard to grasp. The activities, sentiments, and culture that move the story forward feel very foreign to an American (Western) reader. That makes the book very interesting to read and very challenging to read. The book ends very abruptly, leaving conclusions and themes open to interpretation.
The premise of this story is intriguing. It struck me as a pandemic take on the lord of the flies. Takes a bit to get into and leaves questions at the end, like the author was tired of writing. Maybe there will be a sequel?
Very interesting story about survival and determination and grief –”- would recommend this book as a good read for everyone who has experienced a pandemic
As I read the first few pages of this book it seemed full of despair, anger, darkness. I almost gave it up, but the title kept me going- there had to be something redeeming in a book with such a promising title. I’m so glad I did. Umar Taraki has a way with words- so descriptive- almost scriptural in the sense that his words are bursting with metaphor. The characters are so clearly developed, the story tragic, sad and then triumphant-But in such a gentle way- restrained yet flowing with meaning. I loved it and felt just what the title promised.
Confusing. Too many weird names to remember who is who. Title doesnt fit the story.Had to force myself to finish.
I loved the way this novel was written and the story it told.. it was hard to read at times though. But that’s because it contains such heartbreaking details and it’s all focused on a group of children. Because of this, I would suggest no young or light hearted readers (there is a great deal of violence described too).Bottom line though: Turaki, well done on this first book. I can’t wait to read more from this author!