Mamo and LaMamo are twin brothers whose mother leaves the world as they enter it. They grow up in a small village in Northern Nigeria with a philandering and domineering father, Lamang. Dreaming of escape, they decide to run away to become soldiers. Mamo falls sick and is forced to stay behind. He hears from his brother via sketchy letters, as LaMamo joins a rebel group near the Chad border, trains in Libya, then fights alongside Charles Taylor's rebels in Liberia.
Still in the village, Mamo explores local history. He is recruited by the traditional ruler, the Mai, to write a 'true' history of his people. As Lamang fights for political office and Mamo falls in love, LaMamo risks his life for a cause he no longer believes in. As backdrop, Measuring Time has a cast of memorable characters: the devout Christian Aunt Mariana, a witch, a drunken cousin, two unmarried daughters of the white American missionary and Zara, Mamo's bold and thoughtful lover.
This is an epic novel charting the turbulent recent history of Nigeria through the eyes of a single family. Measuring Time is destined to become a classic of African literature.
- Price: N1000
- ISBN: 978-978-080-513-5
- Pages: 320
'Measuring Time has an ambitious reach...Courageous, poised sometimes heartbreaking, this is an extraordinary novel.' Daily Mail, London
'This flawlessly written tale of life and love transports readers to the hot, dusty village of Keti and into the lives of the Lamang family. Habila's writing is powerful, gripping, and poetic without becoming sentimental. Habila is a fantastic author with a brilliant future.' Library Journal USA
'Measuring Time confirms Habila as an exceptional voice in African literature... The novel's triumph is to allow hope to endure.' The Observer, London
"Habila... combines western literary archetypes with a much older, oracular style of African tale-telling in which the novel becomes part of the oral narrative tapestry of a particular community... Measuring Time is both a historical novel that "measures time" in the sense of comparing historical periods, and a psychological study of a man who must "measure up" to his brother and the critical demands of a society in crisis. The Guardian, London
'Habila has packed a great deal into fewer than 400 pages, but he knows how to pace his narrative and it is enlivened by some wonderful writing...It contains a love story, tender but unresolved, and compassionate portraits of women in what remains a patriarchal culture. Above all, though, Habila fulfills his self-appointed task of demonstrating what human beings have in common, struggling to balance tradition and modernity, no matter where they live.' The Times, London.
'With his gorgeously sinuous prose, Helon Habila parses the parallel and wildly divergent lives of twin brothers from a small Nigerian village in Measuring Time. . . . What makes this novel sing is its supple apprehension of history and its sense that any life, however ordinary, can embody the spirit of its age. O Magazine, USA
'A penetrating story of contemporary Nigeria ...portraying with great immediacy the twins' extended family, their lovers, and neighbors. Best of all is the realistic drama of tradition and modernity--the evils of both but also the rich possibilities that come with their complex interaction.' The Booklist, USA
International Herald Tribune
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