Measuring Time

With his gorgeously sinuous prose, Helon Habila parses the parallel and wildly divergent lives of twin brothers from a small Nigerian village in Measuring Time (Norton). Mamo and LaMamo are both restless and ambitious, but only LaMamo realizes his dream of becoming a soldier, while Mamo, undermined by sickle-cell anemia, stays home and fantasizes about glory. What makes this novel sing is its supple apprehension of history and its sense that any life, however ordinary, can embody the spirit of its age.