Gripping and important read about African men and women taking on extremism.
In A Moonless, Starless Sky, Alexis Okeowo has wandered as a reporter into some of Africa's most difficult and dangerous corners and delivered something remarkable: real characters, women and men, fully rendered.
This astounding piece of non-fiction weaves together four narratives to create an urgent portrait of modern Africa.
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. Absolutely essential reading, period.
From an abolitionist who once owned a slave to women basketball players in a war zone, Alexis Okeowo has an alert and thoughtful eye for the unexpected. The portraits and voices she brings us from Africa are so vivid that the reader can easily forget the determination and bravery it must have taken to gather them in these unhappy corners of the continent.
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.
[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.
Okeowo is an excellent reporter, and she does an impressive job of condensing decades of complex history into a handful of paragraphs, but her true genius lies in profiling: she is capable of evoking empathy for her subjects in only a handful of lines.
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.
Remarkable.... Okeowo writes with beauty and grace.... Refreshingly, she does not give in to easy answers.... Clear-eyed, lyrical, observant, and compassionate--reportage at its finest.