Home and Exile by Chinua Achebe

Home and Exile by Chinua Achebe

Nigerian Non-Fiction

Source – personal copy

I said I want to try and focus a bit more this year on African and Arabic literature over the next year. I did use cover a lot more when I first started the blog I have always been a fan of the African writer series. Chinua Achebe was the editor of that series in the early days with the first wave of post-colonial African fiction.I had thought I had covered him before on the blog but I haven’t so when I found this the over week. I choose this as my first read as it dealt with African fiction as it was a collection of three essays that he gave as speeches lat on in his life.

My problem with Joyce Cary’s book was not simply his infuriating principal character, Johnson. More importantly, there is a certain undertow of uncharitableness just below the surface on which his narrative moves and from where, at the slightest chance, a contagion of dostaste, hatred and mockery breaks through to poison his tale. Here is a short expcerpt from his description of a fairly innocent party given by Johnson to his friends,”the demonic appearance of the naked dancers, grinning, shrieking, scowling, or with faces whioch seemed entirely dislocated, senseless and unhuman, like twisted bags if lardm or burst bladders” Haven’t I encountered this crowd before? Perhaps, in Heart of Darkness, in the Congo. But Cary is writing about my home Nigeria, isn’t he ?

HIs problems with Cary’s book Mister Johnson.From the first essay My home under Imperial fire

The three essays are interlocking the first deals with his childhood the nation he grew up in the Igbo people and the fact they are distinctive in themselves. Then the fact that when he first went to school and then university. The books he was given to read were all European in nature and there wasn’t many African books and then the one book that deals with his own country by the Anglo-Irish writer Joyce Cary. He said it didn’t cover the country in a real way Cary had served in Nigeria but didn’t portray the country and this is what drove Achebe to write his first novel to give a truer picture. The second essay deals with those early years that he was an editor of the African writer series. When Dylan Thomas put his weight behind one of the early success Palm wine Drunkard. elsewhere he mentions Camara Laye, Mongo Beti and Cheikh Hamidou Kane as among those that first made inroads with eh post-colonial voices of African literature I choose those three as they are covered here. The last essay deals with the modern African literature and post-colonial scene and literature about Africa. He talks about a change in language from Conrad times to modern-day.

The Launching of Heinemann’s African Writer Series was like the umpire’s signal for which African writers had been waiting on the starting line. In one short genration an immense library of new writing had sprung into being from all over the continent and , for the first time in history, Africa’s future genration of readers and writers – youngsters in schools and colleges – begn to read not only David copperfield and other engliush classics That I and my genration had read but also works by their own writers about their own people

The series which he edited for many years in the second essay The Empire fights back !

It was an inspiring collection of essays from a writer who was always passionate about his work and the influence of African fiction. Here he shows how the African continent was misportrayed in English literature here he starts to mention Conrad a subject he often wrote about. The terms he used in the heart of darkness, but as he pointed out it still has changed but not much he mentions V S Naipaul use of Bush in his novel Bend in the river as a small change from Conrad’s day. A slim collection but worth looking out if you are a fan of African literature as it has some interesting points about fiction about Africa and post-colonial African fiction. Have you read this collection?

Winstonsdads Dozen books of the year 2020

Well it is the 2nd January and I am revealing my books of the year in no order these twelve are the ones that at the end of they year I felt had touched me most over the last twelve months.

1. Now, Now louison by Jean Fremon 

The French gallerist Jean Fremon tries to get into in the life of the renowned artist Louise Bourgeois with this miz of inner monologue, personal history, and antidotes another gem from Les fugitives.

2. Aviaries by Zuzana Brabcova 

I now move onto the last night novel by a Czech writer. That captures a darker underbelly of a fragmented Prague of bums homeless people and Chavs

No photo description available.

3. The years by Anne Ernaux 

Just brilliant this should have won the booker but it is a Fineline between fiction and memoir as she looks back on her life and how she dealt with those ups and downs we all have in our own lifetimes.

4. Termin by Henrik Nor-Hansen 

A look at the out fall of an attack on a normal everyday man and what happens when you have a severe brain injury.a short gem and another from a very small publisher.

 

Termin front cover.png

 

5. When death takes something from you give it back Carl’s book By Naja Marie Aidt

This touching memoir of her son who lost his life in shocking circumstances. Carl deals with a mother getting over the loss of her son at such a young age.

6. The train was on time by Heinrich  Böll

A long-overdue reissue of the debut work of Heinrich Boll on a train to the front there is a man daydreaming and remembering the war at the same time,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7. Doppelganger byDaša Drndić

Two novellas from the late Croat writer Daša Drndić her we see that love can be found in older age but we all have that baggage we carry and this is the case in these two getting together.

8. And the wind sees all by  Guðmundur Andri Thorsson

Here we see a mere moment caught from the whole of a village. The local choirmistress Kata is a stunning red dress head to choir practice . As we look behind the curtains in the small fishing villages we see the inner lives of those there.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

9. 10 minutes 38 seconds in this strange world by Elif Shafak

It is a shock that two books from the Booker shortlist have made my best of year. This glimpses the life os a prostitute through those she knew in her brother and her life before her time in the brothel what drove her there in a series of smells and tastes that she had known throughout her life.

10. Ducks Newburyport by Lucy Elman 

I am one that tends to avoid hype but this 1000 page novel is the inner monologue of a midwest housewife living in the trump era rying to work out in a way how they got there where they are. A long journey but worth taking.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

11. Falstaff: Apotheosis by Pierre Senges

A reworking of the Falstaff character and his place in literature by the underappreciated French writer Pierre Senges someone we should all try I think.

12.The Trap by Ludovic Bruckstein 

Romanian fiction to round off this years best-of list and a look at a bygone world of villages that were full of Jewish life a lament of a world that has gone by. This is a lost gem of Mittel European writing brought to us from the great Istros books.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Well if there is a theme in these books it is to do with narrative om a whole they all challenge what is narrative for us the reader. I think this is what draws me so much to translated fiction and small press. Her is a huge thanks to those who have support this blog over the last twelve months.

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