Book Review: Beneath the Darkening Sky, by Majok Tulba

Originally published in Shelf Awareness for Readers. Reprinted here with permission. If you don't already receive it, sign up here to receive a bi-weekly dose of readerly goodness in your inbox.

When Majok Tulba was a young boy in South Sudan, a group of rebel soldiers attacked his village and took as recruits all of the young boys who stood taller than an AK-47. Though Tulba himself was too short to be taken, he has imagined what his experience might have been in Beneath the Darkening Sky, a novel that centers on Obinna, a young boy who measured taller than the rebels' guns.

During the raid on their village, Obinna and his brother watch as their father is murdered before they are carried away to join the rebel army. As new recruits, they are sent ahead to scout for land mines on long marches; they are ordered to run and hike to keep fit; they are fed measly meals of gruel and scraps; they stand on the lookout for government forces coming to attack them, day in and day out. Obinna's frequent mistakes earn him extra beatings, the nickname Baboon's Ass, even-more-limited rations and constant torment. Slowly, his captain strips him of his sense of identity, his sense of self, to turn him into a soldier--a raping, pillaging, murdering rebel who storms unsuspecting towns in the dead of night, just as soldiers stormed his so many years ago.

Beneath the Darkening Sky is as heartbreaking as it is beautiful, giving us the story of a young boy who must fight to defend himself against conditions worse than any human--let alone a child--should ever be forced to endure. As a novel of resilience and identity, and of what lengths we are willing to go to survive, it is at once harrowing and haunting, shedding light on the continuing horrors of child soldiers.


A copy of this title was provided by the publisher for review.
Beneath the Darkening Sky | Majok Tulba | Oneworld

1 comment

  1. We had a similar situation in my country Sri Lanka, with forced conscription of both young boys and girls. Thirty years of war and unknown thousands dead, the story is repeated in lots of countries.


Thanks for stopping by!