The King's Rifle
by Biyi Bandele
Biyi Bandele, regarded as one of Africa’s great writers, has written a novel about the Chindits, a band of fierce soldiers who fought in Burma during World War II. His novel brings home the truth that World War II was not only a true global war, but also a never-ending source of stories. The author introduces us to Ali Banana, barely an adolescent, with all the innocent foibles attached to that age. He also gives us an amazing glimpse at the British officer, known here as Major Wingate, who led these forces, first in Abyssinia, Ethiopia to us, and then in Burma. From the first curses with African sentiments to the heart wrenching ending, the author engages the reader to care about the characters. Their endearing nicknames so typical of the “greatest generation”, their courage, and their fraternal loyalty make this an outstanding novel, moving the reader from laughter to gasps to tears.