Burma Boy is one story that tells you what you had never read in the history of war, it depicts the camaraderie between fighting men cum humor and compassion. This story lives through you with a whole new knowledge about Second World War, as you admire a swathe of brave men who killed and died in the service of history that was never theirs. I enjoyed reading this novel; I wish it could go longer than it is.
This is what the back cover tells you:
Taut and immediate, at once somber and exhilarating, Burma Boy is the first novel to depict the experiences of black soldiers in the Second World War. This is a story of real life battles, of men who made the legend of the Chindits, the unconventional, quick strike division of the British Army in India. Horrific and always brilliantly executed, this vividly realized account details the madness, the sacrifice and the dark humour of that war’s most vicious battleground. It is also the moving story of a boy trying to live long enough to become a man.
Some of the praises for the book:
‘As humane, ridiculous and moving as Waugh’s novels of the war’
‘A riveting read, convincingly imagined and cinematically told. Bandele is a gifted storyteller. Burma Boy is significant antidote to the malady of historical amnesia about the contribution that black colonials made during World War Two.’
LINTON KWESI JOHNSON
‘A truly fantastic book. A cesarean cut through terrifying and hilarious history’
‘A mind blowing gift for the readers, who find pleasure in reading war stories’
There are many nice lines; this is one of them;
‘Everybody sank into the ground, faces buried into the earth, trying to make themselves as small as possible. The rocket-propelled spin-stabilized projectile roared for several seemingly endless seconds as it raged in high ballistic arc across the jungle to reach them. It grew angrier and louder and scarier as it approached. The 6-inch mortar bomb exploded somewhere behind them, amidst the trees next to the Dakota landing strip. So powerful were its splinters, several trees toppled over as if a giant saw had sliced through them. Another followed immediately after. Then another.’ (Pg-143)
There are characters like; Danja, Samanja Grace, Guntu, Bloken, Sergeant Damisa, but Ali Banana remains my favorite character in this well told story.
There are no perfect books, as one would say, but this story has a unique natural voice on its own, a free flowing tempo, cooled with designed articulation.
I recommend this book for your reading pleasure.