I first became aware of this novel through an interview with author Majok Tulba by fill-in Life Matters host Wendy Harmer on Radio National: http://www.abc.net.au/radio/player/rnmodplayer.html?pgm=Life%20Matters&pgmurl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.abc.net.au%2Fradionational%2Fprograms%2Flifematters%2F&w=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.abc.net.au%2Fradionational%2Fmedia%2F4121610.asx&r=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.abc.net.au%2Fradionational%2Fmedia%2F4121610.ram&t=Majok%20Tulba&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.abc.net.au%2Fradionational%2Fprograms%2Flifematters%2Fmajok-tulba%2F4121610&p=1
Tulba, who migrated to Australia in 2001, has fictionalized the stories he has heard about child soldiers while living in refugee camps in Sudan and Uganda for eight years. His novel has been described as confronting but beautifully written. Tulba, 27, lives in Western Sydney with his wife Mary and three children.
When the rebels come to Obinna's village, they do more than wreak terror for one night. Lining the children up in the middle of the village, they measure them against the height of an AK-47. Those who are shorter than the gun are left behind. Those who are taller are taken. Obinna and his older brother Akot find themselves the rebel army's newest recruits.
But while Akot almost willingly surrenders to the training, Obinna resists, determined not to be warped by the revolution's slogans and violence. In the face of his vicious captain's determination to break him, Obinna finds help in a soldier called Priest, and in the power of his own dreams.
Beneath the Darkening Sky describes a life unimaginably different from our own, but one that is the experience of tens of thousands of child soldiers. Uncompromising, vivid and raw, it is an astonishing portrait of a mind trying to make sense of a senseless world.
Majok Tulba himself was shorter than the AK-47, and came to Australia from South Sudan as a refugee in 2001. This is the story of what might have happened to him had he been an inch taller.
'Seen through the striking simplicity of a child's eyes, and told through a voice gripping and strong, Majok Tulba's powerful novel resonates long after the last page.' Alice Pung
'It does what great literature can, which is to make something beautiful out of terror and truth. Beneath the Darkening Sky is a meticulous and noble examination of violence and evil, and of how the most innocent people anywhere can be broken and, possibly remade.' Anna Funder
Alice Pung the author of Unpolished Gem and Her Father’s Daughter interviews Tulba here: http://www.readings.com.au/news/alice-pung-interviews-majok-tulba-about-beneath-the-darkening-sky
Colleen Ryan’s excellent review of the book can be found here:
Majok Tulba: Born to Write (Financial Review, 30 June 2012): http://afr.com/p/national/arts_saleroom/majok_tulba_born_to_write_9Yfy5Vs99PIZDqEj3uX5AK
Tulba is interviewed by ABC TV here: http://www.abc.net.au/bestof/archive/20120704.htm
Tulba reads a section of his novel inspired by his experiences in refugee camps in Sudan and Nigeria: http://video.couriermail.com.au/2251341113/Beneath-the-Darkening-Sky