A Moonless, Starless Sky
‘Absolutely essential reading, period’ Alexandra Fuller, bestselling author of Don’t Lets Go to the Dogs Tonight
WINNER of the 2018 PEN Open Book Award
In the tradition of Behind the Beautiful Forevers, this is a masterful, humane work of literary journalism by New Yorker staff writer Alexis Okeowo – a vivid narrative of Africans who are courageously resisting their continent’s wave of fundamentalism.
In A Moonless, Starless Sky Okeowo weaves together four narratives that form a powerful tapestry of modern Africa: a young couple, kidnap victims of Joseph Kony’s LRA; a Mauritanian waging a lonely campaign against modern-day slavery; a women’s basketball team flourishing amid war-torn Somalia; and a vigilante who takes up arms against the extremist group Boko Haram. This debut book by one of America’s most acclaimed young journalists illuminates the inner lives of ordinary people doing the extraordinary – lives that are too often hidden, underreported, or ignored by the rest of the world.
The portraits and voices Okeowo brings us from Africa are so vivid that the reader can easily forget the determination and bravery it must have taken to gather them. -- Adam Hochschild, New York Times bestselling author Spectacular reporting. Full of fresh, unexpected detail. If you want to get an immediate sense of the lives, both quotidian and extraordinary, of Africans in some of the continent's most troubled countries, read Alexis Okeowo's book. -- William Finnegan, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Barbarian Days Okeowo's startling and brilliant account of fierce horrors and tender hopes is one of the best records I have ever read of a world that has been made and remade time and again out of struggle and faith. Okeowo is just the kind of reporter we need to hear from when it comes to Africa, the "new" old world: truthful, accurate, deep. -- Hilton Als, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of White Girls Finally, finally, finally - a humane, skillful storyteller with sound reporting instincts has dug into the middle of the stories we think we've already heard out of Africa. Alexis Okeowo can write prose as arresting as Ryszard Kapuscinski's; she's got Katherine Boo's big heart, but she has her own fresh way of approaching the work, one that is terribly overdue. -- Alexandra Fuller This astounding piece of non-fiction weaves together four narratives to create an urgent portrait of modern Africa. * Emerald Street * The achievement of the four stories in Alexis Okeowo's sad and lovely A Moonless, Starless Sky is to render seemingly inexplicable and terrifying events in "far off" African lands quite ordinary ... It is the use of ordinary language that allows Okeowo, a practitioner of the "show, don't tell" school of writing, to reveal character and situation with understated detail ... The author is not interested in the heroism of the journalist. What we are left with is a study of the human spirit struggling to be good even when the prevailing forces are pulling in the opposite direction. * Financial Times * [A] rich and urgently necessary book in which Okeowo disregards all preconceptions to reach for the truth . . . [Okeowo] is equipped with the empathy to inhabit her subjects' lives, the emotional and intellectual capacity to withhold judgement and a sufficient measure of detachment. In prose of devastating simplicity Okeowo mines the moral complexity at the heart of [the] story . . . Okeowo has taken their stories, crafted them in all their courage and complexity and placed them at the center of the story of what it is to be human. * New York Times Book Review * Gripping and important read about African men and women taking on extremism. * Riz Ahmed *
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