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Fisherman’s Blues

Fisherman's Blues by Anna Badkhen
Mar 13, 2018 | 304 Pages
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    Mar 12, 2019 | 304 Pages

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    Mar 13, 2018 | 304 Pages

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    Mar 13, 2018 | 304 Pages

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Fisherman’s Blues is a colorful and affecting portrait of an entire way of life, but it’s also a report from the front lines of a small industry in the twilight of a struggle it never thought it would even face, much less lose…There isn’t any realistic light at the end of the story Badkhen tells. But readers can still be grateful for this graceful, perceptive account.” -Christian Science Monitor

“A profound account of a single community—its primary industries, religious beliefs, and rhythms….[it] unfolds like a novel, featuring well-drawn and sympathetic characters, and show[s] how thoroughly the implications of environmental disaster seep into everyday life.” –The New Republic

“No polemical treatise, Badkhen’s Fisherman’s Blues offers a critical take through subtle and beautiful methods of storytelling. It creates a remarkable snapshot of lives we’d otherwise never know…Developing trust with subjects and truthfully rendering their life stories with great elegance, [Badkhen] achieves a level of poetic political action.” -Minneapolis Star-Tribune

“In elegiac vignettes, Badkhen portrays the trick and snare of a heroic and punishing profession…Her poetic style liberates the reader from the familiar, straightforward quality of traditional reportage, but her work remains equally honest and arguably more compassionate….Fisherman’s Blues is Badkhen’s ode to a community’s fraught ties to geography, and a gentle lament for an existence eroding at the shoreline.” -Dallas Morning News

“A conventional account of life in Joal would be fascinating reading in and of itself—a crucial snapshot of an endangered lifestyle. What Badkhen has written instead is something more like a ghost, an incantation, a life captured in words. In powerful language shaped by the winds and tides, Badkhen not only describes the fishers’ lives but also imbues them with an energy that borders on the uncanny.” -Paste Magazine

“A intimate, urgent, and compassionate narrative about how human and natural landscapes are being interrupted by the Anthropocene.” -LitHub
“Evocative [and] hauntingly beautiful…a moving tribute to a traditional way of life facing enormous change.” Publisher’s Weekly (starred)

“Badkhen is a spellbinding writer, her observations at once hypnotic and elegiac, witnessing a fragile community just barely getting by.” -Booklist

“Lyrical, precise, and lucent…a highly absorbing chronicle of a transcendent journey.” 
-Kirkus Reviews

“Badkhen’s keen observation and participatory research results in a book that gives readers a glimpse into what will be lost.”  -Library Journal

“This book is a peek at a side of West Africa few of us have seen or will ever see. It’s about much more than the depletion of the waters, or how the habits of powerful nations hamstring other ways of life. This is the story of a community full of love and strife and humor, teenagers who die too young, women who understand life, men who tell bad jokes and believe in superstitions that come true, who pray to a kind God many of us don’t believe in or know. Their way of life is an ode to humanity, and I’m so glad Anna Badkhen, one of the most creative and important non-fiction writers in our era, has allowed us to know them.” James McBride 

“Anna Badkhen’s Fisherman’s Blues is, for me, a work of quiet genius. The author has an uncanny ability to address some of the most complex of modern human problems — food shortages, human ambition, family relations—while, at the same time, conveying the spiritual awareness and binding allegiance and love that characterize an enduring community of fishing families on the coast of Senegal. Her keenly observed descriptions of the sea are startling and gorgeous, and her patient consideration of what matters most in human life is unexpectedly hopeful.” Barry Lopez
“A masterpiece. I don’t think I’ve ever seen the natural world captured so authentically. Badkhen makes it immediate, vivid, vital–sacred, actually. She is digging down into the truth of human experience on the planet at this time, and the book resonates with all our time on the planet.” Ben Fountain

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