A beautifully wrenching story: when my hands were not frantically turning pages they were likely to be covering my mouth or my heart. It asks, where has mankind’s humanity gone? And yet it answers that it lives right beside the darkness, in pockets as small as a package of peanuts and as vast as a mother’s fortitude. Debut author Keisha Bush wrote this novel after years spent in Dakar, Senegal, but she grew up right here in Boston.
NEW YORK TIMES EDITORS’ CHOICE • Set in Senegal, this modern-day Oliver Twist is a meditation on the power of love and the strength that can emerge when we have no other choice but to survive.
“I loved this book because it is a story about generations of parents and children saving one another with a love so powerful that it transcends distance, time, and reason.”—Ann Napolitano, New York Times bestselling author of Dear Edward
Six-year-old Ibrahimah loves snatching pastries from his mother’s kitchen, harvesting string beans with his father, and searching for sea glass with his sisters. But when he is approached in his rural village one day by Marabout Ahmed, a seemingly kind stranger and highly regarded teacher, the tides of his life turn forever. Ibrahimah is sent to the capital city of Dakar to join his cousin Étienne in studying the Koran under Marabout Ahmed for a year, but instead of the days of learning that Ibrahimah’s parents imagine, the young boys, called Talibé, are forced to beg in the streets in order to line their teacher’s pockets.
To make it back home, Étienne and Ibrahimah must help each other survive both the dangers posed by their Marabout, and the darker sides of Dakar: threats of black-market organ traders, rival packs of Talibé, and mounting student protest on the streets.
Drawn from real incidents and transporting readers between rural and urban Senegal, No Heaven for Good Boys is a tale of hope, resilience, and the affirming power of love.
About the Author
Keisha Bush was born and raised in Boston, Massachusetts. She received her MFA in creative writing from The New School, where she was a Riggio Honors Teaching Fellow and recipient of an NSPE Dean’s Scholarship. After a career in corporate finance and international development that brought her to live in Dakar, Senegal, she decided to focus full-time on her writing. She lives in East Harlem.
“[An] unflinching and poignant debut.”—The New York Times Book Review
“No Heaven for Good Boys is a compelling, devastating novel with unforgettable characters. Keisha Bush doesn’t shy away from portraying the shattered lives of the children on Dakar’s streets and the injustices that they suffer, but she does so with great compassion and empathy.”—Deepa Anappara, author of Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line
“An extraordinary literary debut, as mesmerizing as it is heartbreaking . . . Bush is an amazing storyteller, by turns harrowing and tender, and no matter how difficult the journey, she never lets us lose sight of the two young cousins who are the beating hopeful loving heart of this triumphant must-read novel.”—Junot Díaz
“You’ll root for Ibrahimah at every heart-wrenching turn as Bush explores his world and the difficult choices his family makes for the sake of honor and tradition.”—Melissa Rivero, author of The Affairs of the Falcóns
“A transporting and beautifully written novel, No Heaven for Good Boys is a testament to the power of friendship and the tenacity of the human spirit.”—Jasmin Darznik, author of Song of a Captive Bird
“A propulsive and captivating novel . . . The characters are fully realized and empathetically rendered; I was rooting for Ibrahimah and his family from page one. I’m so glad that Bush has told this story.”—Mandy Berman, author of The Learning Curve
“A captivating story of modern-day Senegal, beautifully written, wonderfully told.”—David Updike, author of Old Girlfriends
“A tale of resilience and survival.”—The Millions
“[A] powerful, Dickensian debut novel . . . Bush is a born storyteller, who knows how to speak in the language of the boys she brings to life. They are hungry and they want love—the latter being the word most often used in this devastating, drawn-from-real-events story.”—Literary Hub