Plot: In The Bodies That Move, Bunye Ngene unforgettably depicts the journey of a young Nigerian man, Nosa, who falls into the brutal hands of human smugglers in his quest for a better life abroad. Harrowing and deeply moving, this novel will haunt the dreams and consciences of its readers for some time.
Prose/Style: From the very first page of the book, readers will know they are in the hands of a good writers, but soon they will realize they are under the spell of a great one. Ngene writes sparely, cleanly, and with quiet force.
Originality: Nosa's odyssey is a depressingly familiar one to any who read or watch the news, but Bunye Ngene makes his protagonist's inner life so transparently real to the reader that no news story can compare. The Bodies That Move is a superbly crafted novel.
Character Development/Execution: Perhaps the greatest thing about the protagonist of the novel is that his creator allows him to be flawed. Setting out as a young man who is by turns envious, anxious, ambitious, and vain, Nosa grows in stature, becoming a survivor adamant in his determination to stay alive and get where he is going.
Blurb: Ngene writes sparely, cleanly, and with quiet force. The Bodies That Move will haunt its readers' dreams and consciences for some time.
Date Submitted: April 08, 2021
Loved it! 😍
An important journey that gives one a better understanding of how unfree freedom can be.Much like the theory that water is the originating principle of all things from ancient Greek natural philosopher Thales of Miletus, author Bunye Ngene begins his debut novel, The Bodies That Move, with a description of water as supernatural, beautiful, and filled with nostalgia remembrance. But because of water’s completeness in all things, it quickly moves from a source of past freedom to one of present terror. Thus begins the journey of hardships that takes Nosa, the young protagonist, through his recollection of events that led him to being stranded on a small dinghy with others in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea. Nosa begins chronologically with his high school graduation in Nigeria, also the Author’s home country, and the seemingly inevitable events that one needs to take in order to secure a better life. Because his father left his family for a rich woman, Nosa as the eldest child is responsible for the family but fails in finding a suitable job even though he graduated at the top of his class. Thereafter he is convinced to leave his home country for that better life. But along the way, Nosa and the reader examine the paradox of the various possible constraints on freedom. The story quickly picks up pace once the journey away from Nigeria begins, which ends up trapping the reader in the many consequences much the same way Nosa is forced to follow a certain path given the limited number of options available. Therefore, Nosa becomes a sympathetic character that we hope makes it in the end. These are the two aspects that work the best for me as a reader. The editing between time periods never fails to lose my attention and further fleshes out the dire circumstances of the present.The parts that did not work as well for me were the secondary characters that we meet along the way but are quickly forgettable. Apart from that, this book is a thoroughly enjoyable read about a journey that is repeatedly mentioned in the West but never in detail. We read the headlines of “ Migrants Stranded in Mediterranean” but never know how that stranding actually came to be. In this way Bunye Ngene provides the important and necessary missing link.I would recommend this book to most of those interested in reading a debut, contemporary story from an author worthy of our attention.
If you thought that crossing the Mediterranean Sea or the English Channel was the most dangerous part of a refugee's journey to freedom, then you need to read this book, 'The Bodies That Move' by Bunye Ngene. The author spares no-one's feelings in chronicling the systematically inhumane treatment of the displaced by unscrupulous people traffickers and presents a powerful argument to wealthier and more stable regimes to deal with this shameful and destabilising practice with far more rigour and compassion than at present.
The story follows Nosa, a young, presentable and university-educated Nigerian, who, because of the corruption in his home country, is persuaded by a former classmate to make the journey to Europe, a better life and earning power to keep his mother and younger siblings from poverty. Though far from cheap, he borrows the money necessary to fund his passage and sets out in high hopes of reaching Italy in three weeks. His optimism however is short-lived and hunger, lack of sleep and hygiene facilities and cramped travelling conditions soon become the norm. But this is just the start of what Nosa will experience before he has even left Nigeria.
The gradual wearing away of all civilised standards is shocking to read. The rape of the female travellers, the beatings, enforced work (slavery in other words), starvation and the callous abandonment of all whose 'agents' have not paved the way across the Sahara Desert or war-torn Libya become everyday occurrences, not even raising an eyebrow in the end. But Nosa is one of the 'lucky' ones, reaching the coast after three months of hell, eventually boarding an inflatable with no life jacket and being picked up by European coastguards. He has achieved his aim and gained what? Europe's record of the treatment of refugees is nothing to write home about, quite literally.
To say I enjoyed reading this book would be untrue but I'm very glad I did and I would encourage you to as well.
On a packed dinghy in the middle of the sea, Nosa is trapped with no food or water and little hope of reaching land. As he reflects on this dilemma, we are taken on the journey from his home in Nigeria to floating in the sea. After Nosa graduated from college he tried unsuccessfully to get a job. He bumps into an old friend who sells him on the idea of moving to Italy for a better life for him and his family. Nosa pays the agents fee and is told the trip should take 3/4 weeks but what follows is a harrowing journey of hunger, violence, captivity and trauma.Along the way Nosa befriends Aiah, a fellow traveller, who is also looking for a better future for himself and his family. They transverse touch terrain from Nigeria into Niger and navigate through the Sahara Desert in war torn Libya. (...)
Nosa's story is so vivid and palpable that I easily and unsettlingly transported myself into his distressing experiences. He was an intriguing character in many ways. He was deeply contemplative which brought out all his inner thoughts, feelings and developed his character. This helped bring the story to life in a more human and realistic way. His longing for a better future while risking his life for the betterment of his family spoke volumes of his courage and integrity. I was in awe of his survival instinct and endurance. I couldn’t help but get emotionally attached to him and genuinely fear for his life as he travelled.This was definitely a 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 read and as a debut novel it was impressively written and showed such skill and development in the plot and characters. I eagerly look forward to reading more of Bunye's work in the future.
It seems daily now that we see images of asylum seekers turning up on boats in Europe and Britain, but for many of us they are little more than faceless migrants; little mind is paid to their background, or their tortuous journey to reach here. This outstanding fictionalized chronicle by Bunye Ngene tells this particular part of their story in its full, shocking detail, from a writer who undoubtedly knows the reality, rather than simply rehashing the emotive triggers of competing news media narratives. His book is fascinating – and utterly appalling.With an appropriately detached objectivity, this tremendous book doesn’t try to sugar-coat the refugees, or blame everything on external inequalities, readily admitting that these people are willing to risk all for a better life than the one they currently have – in this respect, few of them appear to be genuine “refugees”. However, what is eyebrow-raising is the terrible trick played on the unsuspecting travellers by the ruthless, despicable traffickers: if this account is to be believed (which I do), most believe themselves to be entering into a legitimate immigration and transport transaction – until, that is, the beatings, rapes and forced slavery begin, on the 3-week ordeal. The revelations Ngene impart in such a matter-of-fact tone will make even the chilliest blood boil; the inhumanity of which man is capable is on full display, regardless of your political feelings on the subject of illegal immigration. His calm demeanour and writing style are alluring, easing you effortlessly into what might otherwise be an entirely inhospitable read. Strangely, there is something comfortable about this book – perhaps it is Ngene’s manner, or maybe it is the continued hope these people carry, even after realizing the huge mistake many of them have made.All in all, it is a superbly impressive book, which I strongly recommend for those of a political opinion from either wing; I genuinely believe both sides might learn something – I did – and that it is first-hand stories like this which will enable all but the most extremist to find a common ground for dialogue on an always relevant, always sensitive subject. This is, in a nutshell, a very important book, by an outstanding writer.
The Bodies That Move by Bunye Ngene is a riveting novel about what it means to immigrate to another country for safety, security, and a chance at a better life. The main character Nosa has had a hard life growing up. Responsible for his mother and siblings after being deserted by his father, he realizes he needs and wants more than Nigeria, and so sets out for Europe, using smugglers to help him on his journey. He is determined to do whatever it takes, braving the Mediterranean Sea in a small dinghy. Stranded there, he thinks back on his life and the events that led him to this point. He endured a gauntlet of detention camps, safe houses, and transit cities in Nigeria, Niger, and battle-scarred Libya--even the Sahara Desert. He meets other travelers on the way, with their own stories to tell. The one thing they have in common is their driving need to get somewhere else.Ngene has created a much underreported, misunderstood account of what it means to leave your home country in search of a better life elsewhere. It isn't easy to leave the familiar, but Nosa feels he has no other choice or chance than to risk danger and death. Nosa and others endure heartbreaking physical and psychological hardships that would break most people. As you read, you can't imagine how hard it would be to live like this on a daily basis, yet this book shows that perseverance can be an amazing thing and a lifeline. It offers a personal perspective on the subject of immigration but works as a great novel that holds your attention until the end. As for Ngene's writing style, it's smooth, descriptive, and well-paced. You will instantly find yourself in his shoes, and even though hard, you'll be glad you took the journey with him. The Bodies That Move by Bunye Ngene tells a unique story of survival and dreams.