One of most provocative and original voices in contemporary literature, Chinua Achebe here considers the place of literature and art in our society in a collection of essays spanning his best writing and lectures from the last twenty-three years. For Achebe, overcoming Eurocentrism in our appreciation of works of the imagination goes hand in hand with eradicating the destructive effects of racism and injustice in Western society. He reveals impediments that still stand in the way of open, equal dialogue between Africans and Europeans, between blacks and whites, but also instills us with hope that they will soon be overcome.
“A brilliant collection.... [Achebe’s] thoughts always pack a provocative wallop.... Mr. Achebe aims to nudge readers to think past their stubborn preconceptions, and he succeeds marvelously.”—New York Times Book Review
“These essays are funny, lucid, intelligent, and formed by a historical experience that is still too little understoon in the United States... [Achebe is] a powerful voice for cultural decolonialization.”—Village Voice
TABLE OF CONTENTS
An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad’s Heart of Darkness
Impediments to Dialogue Between North and South
Named for Victoria, Queen of England
The Novelist as Teacher
The Writer and His Community
The Igbo World and Its Art
Thoughts on the African Novel
Work and Play in Tutuola’s The Palm-Wine Drinkard
Don’t Let Him Die: A Tribute to Christopher Okigbo
Kofi Awoonor as Novelist
Language and the Destiny of Man
The Truth of Fiction
What Has Literature Got To Do With It?
Postcript: James Baldwin (1924-1987)
notes and index
WINNER 2007 - Man Booker International Prize
Chinua Achebe was born in Nigeria in 1930. He was raised in the large villagwe of Ogidi, one of the first centers of Anglican missionary work in Eastern Nigeria, and is a graduate of University College, Ibadan.
His early career in radio ended abrubtly in 1966, when he left his post as Director of External Broadcasting in Nigeria during the national upheaval that led to the Biafran War. He was appointed Senior Research Fellow at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, and began lecturing widely abroad.
From 1972 to 1976, and again from 1987 to 1988, Mr. Achebe was Professor of English at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and also for one year at the University of Connecticut, Storrs.
Cited in the London Sunday Times as one of the “1,000 Makers of the Twentieth Century” for defining “a modern African literature that was truly African” and thereby making “a major contribution to world literature,” Chinua Achebe has published novels, short stories, essays and children’s books. His volume of poetry, Christmas in Biafra, written during the Biafran War, was the joint winner of the first Commonwealth Poetry Prize. Of his novels, Arrows of God won the New Statesman-Jock Campbell Award, and Anthills of the Savannah was a finalist for the 1987 Booker Prize.
Mr. Achebe has received numerous honors from around the world, including the Honorary Fellowship of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, as well as more than thirty honorary doctorates from universities in England, Scotland, the United States, Canada, Nigeria, and South Africa. He is also the recipient of Nigeria’s highest honor for intellectual achievement, the Nigerian Order of Merit.
Mr. Achebe lives with his wife in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York, where they teach at Bard College.