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Measuring Time by Helon Habila
Measuring Time tells the story of Nigerian twins, Mamo and LaMamo, whose mother dies in childbirth. They're raised by an aunt and despise their father for his lack of feeling toward them. They even put scorpions in his shoes as children. LaMamo grows to be a strong man and leaves the Nigerian village to become a freedom fighter in Africa's myriad wars. He sends letters back to Mamo, who suffers from sickle cell anemia and doesn't expect a long life; he's just measuring time. Their father becomes a corrupt politician, using Mamo's school to achieve his own nefarious ends. Mamo becomes a scholar and, almost reluctantly, a historian, and he's chosen to write the history of the local mai's rule and family. Working for the mai, however, comes with knowledge that might force Mamo to action of his own. Helon Habila's novel has received mostly positive reviews with the New Statesman saying, "This novel is so bitter, so sweet, so humbling. It says we will always be crushed by the times we live in. Where is the comfort? Maybe it is that, in memory, we return."