Chigozie Obioma

The Fishermen


In the 1990s Nigeria, four brothers from a quiet middle-class family–the oldest 15, and the youngest nine–take advantage of their father’s extended absence to skip school and go fishing at a forbidden river. There they encounter Abulu, a vision-seeing madman whose prophecy of violence will follow the boys through their lives, and shake up their family in both devastatingly tragic and yet redemptive ways.

Already deemed a “classic tale of boyhood,” The Fishermen is both a coming-of-age novel, and a powerful portrait of familial and brotherly bonds, and what happens when trust–the main chord that binds a family–is broken.

Adapted into an award-winning stage play by Gbolahan Obisesan that played in the UK and South Africa between 2018-2019 with runs at London West end’s Trafalgar studios, Edinburgh Fringe, HOME theatre in Manchester and Market Theatre in South Africa amongst others.


Alice Walker, Author of The Color Purple

Alice Walker

Astonishing first novel…a remarkable, mythic book.

The New York Times

Fiammetta Rocco

In his exploration of the mysterious and the murderous, of the terrors that can take hold of the human mind, of the colors of life in Africa, with its vibrant fabrics and its trees laden with fruit, and most of all in his ability to create dramatic tension in this most human of African stories, ­Chigozie Obioma truly is the heir to ­Chinua Achebe.

The Australian

Adam Rivett

The Fishermen, Chigozie Obioma’s debut novel, is an incredibly assured piece of writing. It is a novel of modern Nigeria still under the thrall of superstition, and is marked by two ­qualities: the consistent fineness of its prose and its deft handling of narratorial perspective.

USA Today

Darkly mythic…a kind of African Cormac McCarthy, committed to a stark vision of life in which our pretensions to civilization are forever held up and exposed as skin deep: that what really runs us is deeper down, in the blood.

Sydney Morning Herald

A classic… [Obioma’s] language flares and gleams poetically and his grip on narrative is unfaltering

Financial Times

Lorien KiteLorien Kite

Nowhere is the mythic quality of The Fishermen felt more than in its… vivid images, often drawn from the natural world, through which its narrator recalls his childhood

The Guardian

Robert McCrum

Obioma, the heir to Chinua Achebe, is a good writer whose work has a deeply felt authenticity, combined with old-fashioned storytelling.


Michael Shaub

An excellent debut…Chigozie Obioma writes with sophistication and inventiveness; he’s obviously deeply in love with the English language, and it shows. This is a dark and beautiful book by a writer with seemingly endless promise.

Publisher’s Weekly


Seamlessly interweaving the everyday and the elemental, Obioma’s strange, imaginative debut—the translation rights to which have been sold in 12 countries—probes the nature of belief and the power of family bonds…Obioma excels at juxtaposing sharp observation, rich images of the natural world, and motifs from biblical and tribal lore; his novel succeeds as a convincing modern narrative and as a majestic reimagining of timeless folklore.



Although unaffiliated with the author, we think these materials might be useful for your understanding of the novel and potentially teaching the novel:

Read and teach the short story version of The Fishermen which Obioma developed into a full novel.
BBC TV profile of the author below: