Thursday, January 9, 2014

Radiance of Tomorrow, by Ishmael Beah on NPR's Morning Edition


I heard this story on NPR this morning, about a former child soldier turned novelist, and I was deeply moved by some of the language and imagery I heard.

You can hear the full story, on NPR's website: here.

The poetry that stuck with me was near the end of the story, when Ishmael Beah was describing his native language, Mende, which is a tonal language (meaning that meaning is often derived from tone) and is apparently very image driven. A few examples of beautiful phrases they use are:

A soccer ball might be called a nest of air.

If night falls suddenly they might say the sky rolled over and changed its sides.

Have you ever heard anything so beautiful? Remember, this is a former child soldier speaking.

9 comments:

Bryan Russell said...

I read his memoir, A Long Way Gone, and it was pretty harrowing. His novel looks good, so it will probably end up on my wish list.

Slamdunk said...

Fascinating story, Matthew--I can't imagine how much pain he saw in Sierra Leone. I am big on knowing an author's background and experiences--it often helps me understand the book better.

Steve MC said...

Love those images. Can't imagine what they say when they're in love.

SA Larsenッ said...

Thanks for sharing the brief excerpts. Very intriguing and, yes, quite beautiful.

mshatch said...

wow. This sounds familiar. Has he been on NPR before?

Melanie Schulz said...

That language reminds me of my four year old son and how he talks to us- so beautiful and descriptive.

Rusty Carl said...

Those are some beautiful phrases. Lovely.

Guilie Castillo said...

Forget French--Mende sounds like the kind of language every writer should learn. I guess the best do "speak" it in some way. Thanks for sharing this, Matt. Off to add it to my Goodreads TBR pile :) Happy new year!

Michael Offutt, Phantom Reader said...

All the good things can be found on NPR.