Paperback: Burma Boy, by Biyi Bandele

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The Independent Culture

At just 14 years old, Ali Banana, a boy as sweetly goofy as his name, decides to leave his village in Nigeria and enlist as a volunteer with the Allied forces. Trained in India, he is sent to fight with the Chindits, a unit operating deep behind Japanese lines in the Burmese jungle. Based on the author's own father's wartime memories, this polyglot war story combines a classic coming-of-age tale with a graphic recreation of life in the besieged jungle stronghold of White City – Banana's ultimate destination. Bandele's elegant portrait of the real-life renegade leader of the Chindits, Brigadier Orde Wingate, reads as if he might have been a character dreamt up by Evelyn Waugh.