Speak No Evil

A Novel
Length: 6 hrs and 21 mins
Categories: LGBT, Literature & Fiction
4.5 out of 5 stars (617 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

In the long-anticipated novel from the author of the critically acclaimed Beasts of No Nation, a revelation shared between two privileged teenagers from very different backgrounds sets off a chain of events with devastating consequences.

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.

When his father accidentally discovers Niru is gay, the fallout is brutal and swift. Coping with troubles of her own, however, Meredith finds that she has little left emotionally to offer him. As the two friends struggle to reconcile their desires against the expectations and institutions that seek to define them, they find themselves speeding toward a future more violent and senseless than they can imagine. Neither will escape unscathed.

In the tradition of Junot Diaz's The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's Americanah, Speak No Evil explores what it means to be different in a fundamentally conformist society and how that difference plays out in our inner and outer struggles. It is a novel about the power of words and self-identification, about who gets to speak and who has the power to speak for other people. As heart-wrenching and timely as his breakout debut, Beasts of No Nation, Uzodinma Iweala's second novel cuts to the core of our humanity and leaves us reeling in its wake.

©2018 Uzodinma Iweala (P)2018 HarperCollins Publishers

Editor's Pick

Lyrical and emotional
"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."
Michael D., Audible Editor

What listeners say about Speak No Evil

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

So incredibly sad

I didn’t know what awaits me when I started to listen to this book. I only knew that it is LGBTQ themed. But it so much more than that! It is way beyond “just” a simple coming out story. It is incredible. I love how the author spins the story, how the facts are captured and how the characters evolve. I am impressed by the description of certain culturally specific details and how they play out in the story. I highly recommend it, but be aware of how sad it is.

27 people found this helpful

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Defies expectations

The fact that a book isn't what you expect it to be means that it will either be an unexpected surprise or a burning disappointment. This book is classified as Gay and Lesbian, and the synopsis describes a teenager struggling with his sexuality, but this book is only nominally about either. It brings in issues of race; it brings them in hard, late, and with little preamble; and it discards the issue of sexuality like a red herring. I will grant that frustration with the choices the characters make may speak to its being well-written, or it may speak to its being a cheat, as when the drunken teenager in the slasher movie opens that door in the abandoned farmhouse. It takes a lot of work to create smart, sensible, and grounded characters who turn around and make foolish decisions. I can't be more specific about this without spoiling the story for those who want to read it, but be warned, you may not like where it goes. As for the narrators, the first had a Shatner-esque speaking style (Too. Many. Pauses.) that made it difficult to love the book.

19 people found this helpful

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Part 2 Let Me Down

Iweala presents a beautiful voice in Part 1 of Speak No Evil. Niru is genuine, confused, and complex. His perspective rings true to his circumstances and walking through the journey of his own self-acceptance is engaging for the reader. However, Iweala in Part 2 ditches the elements that make Speak No Evil unique and enjoyable. He abandons the voice so artfully depicted in Part 1 and loses the opportunity to further explore an emotionally complex and relatively undiscussed topic. For me, hearing this shift in the audiobook format exemplified the jarring change in direction. I loved Part 1, but Part 2 was a painful disappointment.

18 people found this helpful

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Engaging but painful

Well written and performed, a story illustrating the devastating effects that intolerance and fear can have on relationships and on lives. Do not read this if you need a pick me up or feel good resolution. Do read this if you want a thought provoking, heartfelt story about what divides us. #ComingOfAge #Provocative #Depressing #TorturedHero #tagsgiving #sweepstakes

15 people found this helpful

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Heartbreaking

Beautiful, tragic, and circumscribed, this book will take you on an emotional journey from which you may not recover.

5 people found this helpful

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So real, so touching

This book is beautifully written. You fall in love with the characters and they break your heart. The performance was one of the best.

4 people found this helpful

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wow

really good writing and performance. definitely worthwhile. great work. please take the time to listen to the words and tonality.

3 people found this helpful

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And easy, emotional and enveloping listen

Prentice Onayemi’s buttery voice is wonderfully paired with Mr. Iweala’s descriptive writing- I felt deeply connected to the main character during this sad sombering tale.

3 people found this helpful

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Igbo excellence

A poignant story about culture, race, privilege, and sexual orientation. I appreciate how Iweala weaves Igbo culture and language throughout his story to give the reader a realistic bird’s eye perspective of Niru and his family. Iweala captures the essence of Igbos who live in the diaspora as they straddle two often contrasting worlds. This story reminds me of a contemporary version of Richard Wright’s classic novel Black Boy.
The narration is superb! Onayemi delivers an authentic Igbo accent. He brilliantly plays the music to Iweala’s notes.

2 people found this helpful

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An intense, realistic, disturbing novel

The start of the novel came alive and grabbed me immediately. This is a coming-of-age story, with the protagonist, Niru, an African American senior in high school at a prestigious DC prep school. Niru is a star student and runner, and is heading off to Harvard in the fall. Niru has a conservative, strict Nigerian father, and Niru is gay. The other main character is Meredith, Niru's closest friend. This novel's characters come alive, and I was pulled into this world. Where this falls a little short is in the middle, when Niru and his parents go to Nigeria. The narrator switches to Meredith partway into the second half, and that is not as strong a story. There also is an oppressiveness to this that made me have to stop, but I always returned. The narration was outstanding, though the voice for Niru sounded a little too old and mature for a high school kid. Overall, I enjoyed this compelling story a lot.

1 person found this helpful