On the surface, Niru leads a charmed life. Raised by two attentive parents in Washington, DC, he's a top student and a track star at his prestigious private high school. Bound for Harvard in the fall, his prospects are bright. But Niru has a painful secret: He is queer - an abominable sin to his conservative Nigerian parents. No one knows except Meredith, his best friend, the daughter of prominent Washington insiders - and the one person who seems not to judge him.
I’ve never seen nor read Beasts of No Nation, so Speak No Evil is my first experience with author Uzodinma Iweala. His writing is sublime. Clean, precise, evocative, whatever you want to call it, I am constantly impressed by how well he mirrors his character’s emotions with their physical environment. For example, the moment before Niru comes out as gay to his potential girlfriend (very early in the story), he is wandering through her unheated parents' house, in the dark, and half naked. Iweala’s imagery and style is surprising in this way. It’s lyrical but not prosaic, and sparse as a means of conveying honesty and reality, without feeling brusque or truncated. Narrators Prentice Oneyemi and Julia Whelan are really the reason I picked this one though, because they are two seasoned veterans who complement each other, and Iweala’s aesthetic immaculately.