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An Orchestra of Minorities

Written by: Chigozie Obioma
Narrated by: Chukwudi Iwuji
Length: 18 hrs and 8 mins
4 out of 5 stars (8 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

A heartbreaking story about a Nigerian poultry farmer who sacrifices everything to win the woman he loves, by Man Booker finalist and author of The Fishermen, Chigozie Obioma

Set on the outskirts of Umuahia, Nigeria, and narrated by a chi, or guardian spirit, An Orchestra of Minorities tells the story of Chinonso, a young poultry farmer whose soul is ignited when he sees a woman attempting to jump from a highway bridge. Horrified by her recklessness, Chinonso joins her on the roadside and hurls two of his prized chickens into the water below to express the severity of such a fall. The woman, Ndali, is stopped her in her tracks.

Bonded by this night on the bridge, Chinonso and Ndali fall in love. But Ndali is from a wealthy family and struggles to imagine a future near a chicken coop. When her family objects to the union because he is uneducated, Chinonso sells most of his possessions to attend a college in Cyprus. But when he arrives he discovers there is no place at the school for him and that he has been utterly duped by the young Nigerian who has made the arrangements. Penniless, homeless, and furious at a world which continues to relegate him to the sidelines, Chinonso gets further away from his dream, from Ndali and the farm he called home.

Spanning continents, traversing the earth and cosmic spaces, and told by a narrator who has lived for hundreds of years, the novel is a contemporary twist of Homer's Odyssey. Written in the mythic style of the Igbo literary tradition, Chigozie Obioma weaves a heart-wrenching epic about destiny and determination. 

©2019 Chigozie Obioma (P)2019 Hachette Audio

What the critics say

"Unforgettable second novel.... Obioma's novel is electrifying, a meticulously crafted character drama told with emotional intensity. His invention, combining Igbo folklore and Greek tragedy in the context of modern Nigeria, makes for a rich, enchanting experience." (Publishers Weekly, starred review)

"Chigozie Obioma is an audacious and ambitious writer, and quite adept at binding the reader to the irresistible spells he casts. An Orchestra of Minorities is a magisterial accomplishment by any measure, and particularly impressive for the way Obioma orchestrates a tableau in which humans and spirits must interact in a complex, emotionally rich-veined story. Few writers can match Obioma's astonishing range, his deft facility for weaving a mesmeric and triumphant fictive canvas in which - reminiscent of the ancient masters - a cohort of gods presides over and negotiates the fates of humans." (Okey Ndibe, author of Foreign Gods, Inc.)

"Obioma alchemizes his contemporary love story into a mythic quest enhanced by Igbo cosmology.... Magnificently multilayered, Obioma's sophomore title proves to be an Odyssean achievement." (Booklist, starred review)

"Obioma overwhelms readers with a visceral sense of Chinonso's humanity, his love, his rage, and his despair as he struggles between fate and self-determination." (Library Journal, starred review)

What listeners say about An Orchestra of Minorities

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Awesome, Master craft, a beautiful storyline but ...

In this book, Chigozie Obioma proved once more that he is a master storyteller. Just like in the “Fisherman” he was able to weave Igbo culture and cosmology into fiction.
What I adored most was his ability to give voice to “CHI - personal spirit” which in Igbo cosmology has always been known to be silent or at least not always a protagonist in fictions. Through this new voice, Chigozie was able to demonstrate the power of Igbo cosmology in day to day life of an average Igbo man. And though, it is based on Igbo cosmology, one can ascribe the role of “CHI” to the voice of the conscience in psychology.
And faithful to himself, the opening announced the tragic nature of the novel, a theory which the conclusion corroborated well.
My only reservation is the performance of this book. I had to force myself to finish it. I’m an avid audible listener and a beautiful storyline like this one would have been a nonstop listening but I had to stop every now and then. The reason being that the narrator exaggerated Nigerian accent in many occasions. And it hurts if you are a Nigerian listener.
But what made me scream every now and then was the Igbo accent. For a non Igbo listener, it wouldn’t be a problem but for an Igbo speaker, you just need to be patient not to dash your phone on the wall. Majority of the Igbo and Nigerian names were massacred and certain expressions almost incomprehensible. I didn’t know it, so I was not prepared to face it. I believe those who will read this comment before listening to it might be less shocked than myself.
There were also few moments I found it difficult to understand who was speaking but it was absolutely not a problem at all.
Finally, it’s a must for anyone who really like beautiful fictions weaved around culture, cosmology, society and ethics. If you are an avid reader, which I’m unfortunately not, grab the hard copy before or after. I did command one before the end of the audible.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Mica Denise
  • 2019-09-22

Absolutely Brilliant!

This book is absolutely brilliant.

During the first chapter or so I was a bit confused, even angry at the narration. I didn’t think I would complete the book. However, it is so beautifully written that I was soon captivated. I was completely invested. I am extremely happy that I didn’t allow the reviews nor early frustrations deter me from completing it. I’m not sure why I decided to proceed, but this book is one of my all time favorites. I admit at times the situations are embarrassing, frustrating and even depressing, but there are also bits of humor. The writings are rich in knowledge and I am in awe of the authors wealth of wisdom. IN AWE! Highly recommended this book.

3 people found this helpful

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  • uniquefashion
  • 2019-08-27

just exquisite!

The best book I have listened to in years, like was poetry to my ears. This author's writing is so captivating and he has such a skill for beautifully unraveling a multilayered and complex story with such intricate details..... I enjoyed all of it and so happy I found this book!

3 people found this helpful

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  • W Perry Hall
  • 2019-04-17

Symphony of thousand natural shocks flesh inherits


This is a superbly written, expertly structured, often captivating, One Hundred Eighty Proof Tragedy, through and through, for which it may well suffer in ratings. Which is too bad, because it is an intelligent and particularly unique, heart-bruising novel.

Describing the story in much detail may well trash the tragedian effects, but, if I may use a crutch for description in two 70s song lyrics: *the things we do for love* and *My body's aching and my time is at hand / I won't make it any other way*

Also, from the Book of Common Prayer, *The iron entered into his soul.*

Finally, see The Book of Job.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Tolu
  • 2019-11-12

Very good Plot

Was very interesting couldn’t stop listening. I felt connected to the characters, the twist of event was refreshing

1 person found this helpful

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  • Expecting
  • 2019-11-03

Very Sad

I kept waiting for a glimmer of hope...an intrusion of good luck of some sort. But that never came for the main character Nonso who's life was ridden with tragic event after tragic event until the very end. Nonso's story it narrated by his "chi", his sort of guardian spirit. The story was eloquenty written and is heavily laden with elements of ancient Igbo religion which was very interesting. However, it was such a tragic tale. The story was too melancholic for me. I am still feeling sad for Nonso.

1 person found this helpful

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  • barbara
  • 2019-02-08

Deep, fascinating, brilliant, frustrating.

This is a multi-layered story in which the protagonist's actions in life are narrated by his chi, or spirit, so the reader is seeing and experiencing Chinonso's life from two simultaneous vantage points: From the meta-level of the spirit, and from the interior world of Chinonso, as described by the spirit. One reviewer commented on how this narrative device keeps us at a remove from the inner workings of Chinonso's mind, and I agree with that, but since Chinonso is basically possessed by and obsessed with his lover, Ndali, the inner workings of his mind seem to run in an endless loop anyway, with only occasional glimpses of reality, so I think the narrative device works well. However, Chinonso's obsession frustrates his chi, and frustrated this reader as well. Have you ever read or watched Othello or Romeo and Juliet, for example, and had the strong desire to yell "Don't do it! Can't you see how stupid you're being?" There are moments like that in abundance in this book. There are long sections, particularly when Chinonso travels to Cyprus to attend college, in which the narrative moves along quickly and sparks with interest. There are other sections, particularly the final two hours of the audiobook, in which the narrative drags into a kind of grinding and painful repetitiveness, and I wanted the chi's observations to stick with the story, and quit with the spirit world stuff. But overall, Obioma's brilliance and energy and vision carry the day. However, in truth, I preferred his earlier novel, "The Fisherman," which was a tour de force. In both novels, the narrator is pitch-perfect and makes the listening experience pure joy.

3 people found this helpful

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  • M. Ervin
  • 2019-05-06

fantastic!

excellent storytelling... couldn't put it down!!! Has everything... drama, romance, mystery... all weaved together phenomenally

2 people found this helpful

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  • Ahmad amer
  • 2020-07-18

tiring

it's a harsh tragedy spickeled with egbo cosmology and a fresh handful of surrealism.
some parts are very moving and engaging, loved the parts in Cyprus and the love story.
the protagonist is not very likeable, I really found myself mainly feeling pity for him and rolling my eyes at his naivety.
Ndali is very likeable and I think her story would be more interesting.
the monologuing of the chi and all the proverbs were very hard for me to go through, I guess there is a cultural value to it, but i found it to stand in the way of the narrative.
all and all I wouldn't recommend it for the faint of heart as it is very heavy and very dark.

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  • nuke
  • 2020-07-04

Engaging Read

Life is truly complex as expressed in this story. The story started slow but engages the reader midway. I enjoyed the story.

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  • Chiem Amadi
  • 2020-06-29

Weak Protagonist.

The story was interesting and sad, while the main character pathetic. The idea of the story from the point of view of the "Chi" was interesting. The narrator did a good job.