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Buchi Emecheta (Florence Onye Buchi Emecheta) Biography

(1944– ), (Florence Onye Buchi Emecheta), In the Ditch, Second-Class Citizen, The Bride Price

Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: Dutchman to Paul Engle Biography

Nigerian-born British novelist, born in Lagos, educated at the University of London; she took up residence in Britain in 1962. Her first two novels, In the Ditch (1972) and Second-Class Citizen (1974), are semiautobiographical. The first novel chronicles the struggles of Adah, Nigerian mother of five, to raise her children in poverty in North London, while working on a degree in Sociology, and separated from her husband. The second delves into Adah's childhood, her move to London, and her entrapment in a difficult marriage. These two novels established Emecheta's reputation as a feminist. An early version of The Bride Price (1976), a tragic love story set in the Igbo town of Ibuza in the early 1950s, was burned by Emecheta's husband. The Slave Girl (1977) and the ironically titled The Joys of Motherhood (1979), continue her scrutiny of traditional society and the difficulties that face women struggling to gain independence from male-dominated authority. Patriarchal values are seen at their worst in Gwendolen (1989), which examines the problems facing Caribbean immigrants in London and focuses on a sexually exploited Jamaican girl. Other novels include Destination Biafra (1981), a grim tale of civil war; Double Yoke (1982), about young Nigerians trapped between tradition and modernity; The Rape of Shavi (1983), a futuristic anti-colonial satire, and Kehinde (1994), a portrait of conflicting loyalties, in which a woman assesses the freedoms she will lose if she returns to Nigeria with her husband. Head Above Waters (1986) is an autobiography. Emecheta also writes children's books.

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