Books

There Was a Country

Chinua Achebe

The defining experience of Chinua Achebe's life was the Nigerian civil war, also known as the Biafran War. For more than forty years Achebe was silent on those terrible years, until he produced this towering reckoning with one of modern Africa's most fateful events. A marriage of history, remembrance, poetry and vivid first-hand observation, There Was a Country is a work of wisdom and compassion from one of the great voices of our age.

The Education of a British-Protected Child

Chinua Achebe

The pieces here span reflections on personal and collective identity, on home and family, on literature, language and politics, and on Achebe's lifelong attempt to reclaim the definition of 'Africa' for its own authorship. For the first thirty years of his life, before Nigeria's independence in 1960, Achebe was officially defined as a 'British Protected Person'. In The Education of a British-Protected Child he gives us a vivid, ironic and delicately nuanced portrait of growing up in colonial Nigeria and inhabiting its 'middle ground', interrogating both his happy memories of reading English adventure stories in secondary school and also the harsher truths of colonial rule.

An Image of Africa/ The Trouble with Nigeria

Chinua Achebe

Beautifully written yet highly controversial, An Image of Africa asserts Achebe's belief in Joseph Conrad as a 'bloody racist' and his conviction that Conrad's novel Heart of Darkness only serves to perpetuate damaging stereotypes of black people. Also included is The Trouble with Nigeria, Achebe's searing outpouring of his frustrations with his country.

GREAT IDEAS. Throughout history, some books have changed the world. They have transformed the way we see ourselves - and each other. They have inspired debate, dissent, war and revolution. They have enlightened, outraged, provoked and comforted. They have enriched lives - and destroyed them. Now Penguin brings you the works of the great thinkers, pioneers, radicals and visionaries whose ideas shook civilization and helped make us who we are.

The African Trilogy: Things Fall Apart No Longer at Ease Arrow of God

Chinua Achebe

Chinua Achebe is considered the father of African literature in English, the writer who 'opened the magic casements of African fiction' for an international readership. Following the 50th anniversary of the publication of his ground-breaking Things Fall Apart, Everyman republish Achebe's first and most famous novel alongside No Longer at Ease and Arrow of God, under the collective title The African Trilogy.
In Things Fall Apart the individual tragedy of Okonkwo, 'strong man' and tribal elder in the Nigeria of the 1890s is intertwined with the transformation of traditional Igbo society under the impact of Christianity and colonialism. In No Longer at Ease, Okonkwo's grandson, Obi, educated in England, returns to a civil-service job in colonial Lagos, only to clash with the ruling elite to which he now believes he belongs. Arrow of God is set in the 1920s and explores the conflict from the two points of view - often, but not always, opposing - ofEzuelu, an Igbo priest, and Captain Winterbottom, a British district officer.
In spare and lucid prose,Achebe tellsa universal tale of personal and moral struggle in a changing world which continues to resonate in Africa today and has captured the imaginations of readers everywhere.

No Longer at Ease

Chinua Achebe

Obi Okonkwo is an idealistic young man who, thanks to the privileges of an education in Britain, has now returned to Nigeria for a job in the civil service. However in his new role he finds that the way of government seems to be backhanders and corruption. Obi manages to resist the bribes that are offered to him, but when he falls in love with an unsuitable girl - to the disapproval of his parents - he sinks further into emotional and financial turmoil. The lure of easy money becomes harder to refuse, and Obi becomes caught in a trap he cannot escape.

Showing a man lost in cultural limbo, and a Nigeria entering a new age of disillusionment, No Longer at Ease concludes Achebe's remarkable trilogy charting three generations of an African community under the impact of colonialism, the first two volumes of which are Things Fall Apart and Arrow of God.

Arrow of God

Chinua Achebe

Ezeulu, headstrong chief priest of the god Ulu, is worshipped by the six villages of Umuaro. But he is beginning to find his authority increasingly under threat - from his rivals in the tribe, from those in the white government and even from his own family. Yet he still feels he must be untouchable - surely he is an arrow in the bow of his God? Armed with this belief, he is prepared to lead his people, even if it means destruction and annihilation. Yet the people will not be so easily dominated.

Spare and powerful, Arrow of God is an unforgettable portrayal of the loss of faith, and the struggle between tradition and change. Continuing the epic saga of the community in Things Fall Apart, it is the second volume of Achebe's African trilogy, and is followed by No Longer at Ease.

Things Fall Apart

Chinua Achebe

Okonowo is the greatest warrior alive. His fame has spread like a bushfire in West Africa and he is one of the most powerful men of his clan.
But he also has a fiery temper. Determined not to be like his father, he refuses to show weakness to anyone - even if the only way he can master his feelings is with his fists. When outsiders threaten the traditions of his clan, Okonowo takes violent action. Will the great man's dangerous pride eventually destroy him?

A Man of the People

Chinua Achebe (and others)

As Minister for Culture, the Honourable M. A. Nanga is 'a man of the people', as cynical as he is charming, and a roguish opportunist. At first, the contrast between Nanga and Odili, a former pupil who is visiting the ministry, appears huge. But in the 'eat-and-let-eat' atmosphere, Odili's idealism soon collides with his lusts - and the two men's personal and political tauntings threaten to send their country into chaos. Published, prophetically, just days before Nigeria's first attempted coup in 1966, A Man of the People is an essential part of his body of work dealing with modern African history.

Anthills of the Savannah

Chinua Achebe (and others)

Chris, Ikem and Beatrice are like-minded friends working under the military regime of His Excellency, the Sandhurst-educated President of Kangan. In the pressurized atmosphere of oppression and intimidation they are simply trying to live and love - and remain friends. But in a world where each day brings a new betrayal, hope is hard to cling on to. Anthills of the Savannah (1987), Achebe's candid vision of contemporary African politics, is a powerful fusion of angry voices. It continues the journey that Achebe began with his earlier novels, tracing the history of modern Africa through colonialism and beyond, and is a work ultimately filled with hope.

Biography

Born in 1930, Nigerian novelist and poet Chinua Achebe is probably black Africa's most widely read novelist. His first work, Things Fall Apart, is regarded as a classic of world literature and has been translated into 40 languages.

Introducer Biography:
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie grew up in Nigeria and now lives in the United States. She is the author of Purple Hibiscus, Half of a Yellow Sunand The Thing Around Your Neck.