Authentic, well-researched and passionate, this African-themed novel deals with real people, politics and the startling reality that, in Africa, tomorrow is never a certainty. Sections are based on Nick Roddy’s own experiences of being held at gunpoint as a hostage in Nigeria. Chioma and Azzi, along with their two year old son Chidi, watch as their home is destroyed by the bulldozers of the Nigerian Federal Government to make way for a new road to furnish the oil terminals of Port Harcourt. As the interconnections between characters in the book become clear they must face up to personal and cultural issues, leading to a dark and unexpected final twist.
Out of Jericho follows the lives of several people and covers events that happen all over the world, ranging from Nigeria, Israel, Palestine, London and Paris. It starts with a family having their home demolished to make way for a new road in one part of the world, and simultaneously, thousands of miles away, a young girl clutching a decapitated teddy bear is rescued from cross-fire. Throughout the book we see how these lives are changed and how they are brought together.
I wouldn’t have picked this book up had it not been sent to me, I had never heard of the author and the cover and title gave me the impression that it was going to be like Bravo Two Zero, I couldn’t have been more wrong. The story is both violent (the flaying of a rogue terrorist who doesn’t follow the brief) and touching (a gentile child who is defeated by a Jewish boy then reprimands his father for telling the Jewish boy to go back where he came from) , once I got round to reading it I couldn’t put it down. Nick Roddy humanises the characters that we are used to seeing in the media as two dimensional, either as terrorists or victims, here his gives both sides three dimensions and we hear the thoughts and feelings of them all.
I liken this book to The Color Purple, it begins with separation and ends with reunification, highlighting some of the struggles that people in countries involved in conflict are subjected to. At the same time showing that a lot of the time, their day to day concerns can be very similar to our own. The only let down for me was that the book fizzled out rather than going out with a bang, but I imagine this was the authors intention, as it does leave the characters’ fates to the readers imagination.
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