CHINUA ACHEBE by Ezenwa-Ohaeto

CHINUA ACHEBE

A Biography
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KIRKUS REVIEW

 A Nigerian poet and former student of Achebe's furnishes a diligent if plodding curriculum vitae of the eminent Nigerian novelist and educator. One of the first postcolonial African writers to achieve an international reputation, Albert Chinualumogua Achebe has lived a plethora of lives--as a civil servant, editor, activist, man of letters, and Nigeria's foremost literary ambassador. In addition to his novels, short stories, and poetry, his lifetime's paper trail extends from early articles in university publications through writings on African independence and nationalism to interviews, addresses, and lectures--all of which Ezenwa-Ohaeto has perused for this respectful but remote biography. Achebe received the best and worst of a colonial education (public school English and H. Rider Haggard) but cultivated an individual vision with the prospect of Nigerian independence. His first novel, Things Fall Apart (1958), broke the mold of colonial literature by portraying traditional, preimperial Igbo culture; it was published while he was working in broadcasting for the newly independent Nigeria. His later A Man of the People (1966) bitterly satirized government corruption, proving ironically prescient in its portrayal of election fraud and a military coup. Ezenwa-Ohaeto, for his part, seems reluctant to confront the darkest period of the country's history. The circumstances of the army's coup d'Çtat and the subsequent civil war get sketchy treatment for all their enormity, as does Achebe's role in the failed separatist Republic of Biafra. And his cutting off this biography in 1993, before the Babangida government's worst crackdowns on political opposition, is disappointingly precipitous. More a biographic panegyric for a personage than a depiction of an exceptional person. (25 b&w photos, not seen)

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1997
ISBN: 0-253-33342-2
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Indiana Univ.
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1st, 1997




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