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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction


Measuring Time

Helon Habila

[an overview of the reviews and critical reactions]

general information | review summaries | links | about the author

To purchase Measuring Time

Title: Measuring Time
Author: Helon Habila
Genre: Novel
Written: 2007
Length: 272 pages
Availability: Measuring Time - US
Measuring Time - UK
Measuring Time - Canada
Measuring Time - India
La Mesure du temps - France

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Why we haven't reviewed it yet:

Haven't gotten around to writing it up

Chances that we will review it:


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Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
The Guardian . 10/2/2007 Giles Foden
Independent on Sunday A- 22/4/2007 Julian Flanagan
New Statesman . 19/2/2007 Helen Oyeyemi
The NY Times Book Rev. . 25/2/2007 Hari Kunzru
The Observer A 4/2/2007 Stephanie Merritt
The Spectator B 3/2/2007 D.J.Taylor
The Telegraph C 18/2/2007 Alastair Sooke
The Times . 27/1/2007 Joan Smith
TLS . 9/2/2007 Anthony Cummins

  Review Consensus:

  Not quite a consensus, but most quite impressed

  From the Reviews:
  • "Measuring Time is both a historical novel that "measures time" in the sense of comparing historical periods, and a psychological study of a man who must "measure up" to his brother and the critical demands of a society in crisis. Most importantly of all, however, it is a triumphant celebration of relativism." - Giles Foden, The Guardian

  • "This is an admirably epic book, reaching from village life to Africa's political seismic shifts. As a novel it is hard to fault, as a second novel it is remarkable, because while Habila is vivid he also has a mature discipline. (...) His greatest skill though is in narrative-encapsulating images so strong they stick like personal memories" - Julian Flanagan, Independent on Sunday

  • "Habila's beautifully (and deceptively) simple style is matched by a story that is strong, clear and richly evocative." - Helen Oyeyemi, New Statesman

  • "Measuring Time itself gives discomforting hints of being part of a larger project. Plot lines are picked up and discarded. Even when LaMamo returns from the wars, he remains a vague figure and is quickly dropped, as if Habila doesn’t remember why he was interested in him. In the end the book meanders to a halt, as if overwhelmed by its own despondency. But this somehow seems a fitting end to a melancholy narrative of a fight against decay, a struggle for hope in a cynical world." - Hari Kunzru, The New York Times Book Review

  • "Measuring Time confirms Habila as an exceptional voice in African literature. His great skill is to imbue the individual and the local with panoramic, historical significance. Colonial history, tribal myth, 20th-century politics, Plutarch and the poetry of Christopher Okigbo are tightly woven into precise and loving descriptions of landscape. The novel's triumph is to allow hope to endure." - Stephanie Merritt, The Observer

  • "Dense, compendious and solemn, it is essentially a recapitulation of 30 years or so of Nigerian history seen from the vantage point of a single, fractured family. (...) (F)rom the Plutarchan epigraph on, this is also a book about the difficulties of writing history. (...) Whatever else might be said of Helon Habila, he doesn’t lack material. But for all its purposeful descriptions of scene and incident and the anger that lurks beneath its surface, the novel is occasionally let down by a tendency to narrative flatness." - D.J.Taylor, The Spectator

  • "Heart-wrenching it is not. Hand-wringing or toe-curling, perhaps. (...) Throughout the book, there is one unavoidable fact: Habila's prose is pancake-flat. The paragraphs lack texture. There is no evidence of any love of language. (...) In short, this book is just a little, well, basic. After page after page of homespun narrative, you begin to hanker for something -- anything -- to remind you that novels can also be immensely subtle works of art." - Alastair Sooke, The Telegraph

  • "Habila has packed a great deal into fewer than 400 pages, but he knows how to pace his narrative and it is enlivened by some wonderful writing (.....) Above all, though, Habila fulfils his self-appointed task of demonstrating what human beings have in common, struggling to balance tradition and modernity, no matter where they live." - Joan Smith, The Times

  • "Measuring Time is uneven, but it is still compelling to see how Helon Habila awakens consciousness of this possibility in his would-be revisionist historian." - Anthony Cummins, Times Literary Supplement

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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Measuring Time: Reviews: Helon Habila: Other books by Helon Habila under review: Other books of interest under review:
  • See Index of books from and about Africa

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About the Author:

       Nigerian author Helon Habila was born in 1967.

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© 2011 the complete review

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