Radiance of Tomorrow

Ishmael Beah made his mark in 2007 with A Long Way Gone, his striking memoir of the time he spent as a boy soldier in war-torn Sierra Leone. In Radiance of Tomorrow, his first novel, he revisits Sierra Leone to examine not only what happens to those communities devastated by war, but also their traditions and the outlook for their future. What begins as a story of survivors returning to what used to be home and attempting to reconstruct the rhythms of normal life takes several surprising turns as Beah carefully unfolds his elegant and layered narrative.

The novel opens with Mama Kadie traveling on foot to Imperi, dreading what she might find: "There were bones, human bones, everywhere, and all she could tell was which had been a child or an adult." Mama Kadie is soon joined by village elders Pa Moiwa and Pa Kainesi; together, they clean up what they can, burying the bones that have been lying in the streets for seven years. People start coming: Bockarie, a schoolteacher and bellwether of the new community; Colonel, a take-charge young man hardened by his war experiences; Silas, a man who had one of his hands amputated by a child known only as "Sergeant Cutlass"; and then, Sergeant Cutlass himself.

There is no clear path forward for Beah's characters. At the end of the novel, those who have survived are still moving, still searching for the titular "radiance of tomorrow" that they trust lies beyond the dawn. Through their graceful endurance, Beah shows us the beauty and resilience of the human spirit. --Debra Ginsberg, author

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