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Achebe, Chinua

colonial nigerian set story

(Nigerian, 1930– )

Considered by many to be the finest Nigerian novelist, Achebe's writing career has won him international acclaim. Heavily indebted to the oral tradition, Achebe's novels are about colonial and postcolonial Nigeria. His first, Things Fall Apart (1958), is an elegantly written and informative depiction of Ibo society at the end of the nineteenth century. It follows the story of Okonkwo, a highly respected member of his village whose life is ruined because he cannot adapt to colonial rule.

The sequel to this novel, No Longer at Ease (1960), follows the life of Okonkwo's grandson, Obi, and the initial struggle by the Ibo people to keep their land away from the clutches of the colonizers. Unlike his grandfather, Obi has been brought up a Christian and has had a Western education. This creates an irreconcilable conflict between the traditions of his forefathers and his immersion into the western world. Arrow of God (1964) is set in the 1920s when the colonizers had established a firm grip on Nigeria. Again, the story centres around one man, Ezeulu, a chief priest who struggles to adapt to colonial rule and as a result, loses his grip on reality. Anthills of the Savannah (1987), a runner-up for the Booker Prize, is an impressive work about the insidious power of the Nigerian regime set against the backdrop of Third World politics.

Amos Tutuola, Ben Okri, Wole Soyinka, Caryl Phillips. See AFRICA  EW

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