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Ishmael Beah Books In Order

Publication Order of Standalone Novels

Radiance of Tomorrow (2014)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Little Family (2020)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Publication Order of Non-Fiction Books

A Long Way Gone (2007)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Ishmael Beah is a wonderful author hailing from Sierra Leone. He is popular for writing historical fiction, young adult, coming of age, and cultural stories. Ishmael is also a noted human rights activist. He achieved fame for the first time with his widely popular memoir called A Long Way Gone. After that, he wrote two more books, both of which are also immensely popular. Author Ishmael was born on November 23, 1980, in the Mogbwemo town of Bonthe District in Sierra Leone. When the Civil War broke out in Sierra Leone in 1991, rebels invaded his hometown and caused destruction everywhere, forcing him to flee. Ishmael was detached from his family and spent several months wandering with a small group of boys. When he was 13 years old, he was forcefully made a child soldier. As per the accounts given by Ishmael, he claims that UNICEF managed to rescue him after fighting for almost 3 years.

Author Ishmael fought as a soldier for the government against the rebellious forces. In 1997, Ishmael managed to run away from Freetown with the assistance of UNICEF. The growing violence there forced him to move out and take shelter in New York City. For the first few years in America, Ishmael was made to live with his foster mother named Laura Simms. He completed his schooling from the United Nations International School. In 2004, completed his graduation from Oberlin College with a Political Science degree. Ishmael says that he is filled with the guilt of killing numerous people during his time as a Sierra Leonean child soldier. Just like other soldiers in the army at that time, he too consumed marijuana, amphetamines, and a mixture of gunpowder and cocaine. Ishmael blames the brainwashing and addictions for his violent nature.

The pressure from the army and his addictions were the reasons why the thought of escaping on his own did not cross his mind. During an appearance on a TV show with John Stewart, Ishmael said that he thought moving back to a civilized society was comparatively more difficult than turning into a child soldier. He believed that it was relatively easier to dehumanize children. After he was rescued in a joint effort by several NGOs and UNICEF, Ishmael found the transition phase very difficult. He and other child soldiers used to fight frequently. Ishmael gives the credit of bringing through the tough phase to a volunteer named Nurse Esther. It was because of her efforts that he learned the importance of compassion and patience in life. Nurse Esther recognized Ishmael’s interest in reggae and rap music and handed him a Walkman with a cassette.

Music helped in his healing and brought peace in his life. Ishmael finally understood that it was not his fault that his past turned out to be so and slowly he began to give up his violent nature. In 2009, Ishmael traveled to Sierra Leone at the age of 29 with the crew of ABC News. Later, he described the experience of his return to his hometown as bittersweet. The literary accolades of Ishmael’s writing career include a nomination for the Quill Award in 2007 in the category of the Best Debut Author for his book, A Long Way Gone. The book was also labeled as one of the Top Ten Nonfiction Books of the year by Time magazine and was placed at no. 3. Several other recognitions also followed later.

Ishmael’s other book, Radiance of Tomorrow, also received positive reviews from Boston Globe, NY Times Review, and Washington Post. In January 2020, Ishmael joined Omar Khadr and Romeo Dallaire to spear on human rights & child soldiers at a conference held at Dalhousie University. Ishmael had landed in a controversy in relation to some events and their chronology mentioned in his memoir book when it was claimed that he had joined the child soldier army in 1993 instead of 1995. He defended his account and claimed that every word mentioned in the memoir is true and accurate.

The debut novel written by author Ishmael Beah is entitled ‘Radiance of Tomorrow’. It was released in 2014 by the Sarah Crichton Books publication. Ishmael has described the primary characters in this book as Benjamin, Bockarie, and several others. The book is set in a town called Imperi. Initially, it is mentioned that Benjamin and Bockarie are longtime friends. After the civil war ends, they head for their hometown of Imperi. As soon as they arrive in Imperi, they find that their village has turned into ruins and there are bones lying everywhere. With the return of more villagers, the friends think of forging a new community by resuming their old jobs as teachers. But, Bockarie and Benjamin face numerous obstacles in their attempt, including thievery, retaliation, rape, food scarcity, murders, etc. To add to their problems, a mining company decides to take control of the village and make the villagers leave the place by cutting water supply. As Ben and Bockarie try to find other ways of restoring order in their village, they are faced with more difficulties.

Another excellent book penned by Ishmael is known as ‘Little Family’. It was published by Riverhead Books publication and features the central characters in the form of Elimane, Khoudiemata, Namsa, Ndevui, William Handkerchief, and Kpindi. This novel opens by depicting that 5 young people hide themselves from the harsh outside world and make their home in an abandoned plane. The destructed plane reminds them of the chaos spread in their country. One of those young people is Elimane, who is introduced as a bookworm. He is a wise and street-smart man. Khoudiemata is clever and makes maneuvers to ensure the safety of the younger kids, Kpindi, Ndevui, and Namsa.

When Elimane begins working for the shadowy Willam Handkerchief, it appears that the little unconventional family will manage to keep the household intact and the outside world at a distance. Later, Khoudiemata comes in contact with the beautiful children of powerful people and begins to think of all the desires that she can fulfill by maintaining close contact with such people. This leads to conflicts between the members of the little family, thereby diminishing the chances of their survival. In this novel, Ishmael has beautifully captured the tender and profound portrayal of connections that people forge to keep themselves safe in difficult times.

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