Karen Karbo
February 09, 2007 AT 05:00 AM EST

In Measuring Time, Helon Habila delivers a detailed insider’s view of life in a Nigerian village during the turbulent ’70’s as well as a far-reaching saga of twin brothers desperate for freedom and fame. Against a backdrop of famine, local intrigues, and national unrest, Mamo and LaMamo, neglected sons of wealthy, charismatic Lamang, hope to make their mark in the world. Though the boys’ Uncle Haruna went mad after the Biafran war, reckless LaMamo joins the army — leaving Mamo, who suffers from sickle-cell anemia. In its wry, tender depiction of Mamo’s evolution from boy left behind to published author, Time is both vivid and charming.

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