From Publishers Weekly
Shortlisted for the Booker Prize, this bitterly ironic novel by the Nigerian author of Things Fall Apart, Arrow of God and The Man of the People is at times more of a polemic than dramatic narrative, but it presents a candid, trenchantly insightful view of contemporary Africa. Set in a undeveloped West African state called Kangan, the plot revolves around the figure of the new president, who has taken power in a military coup. The three main charactersChristopher Oriko, commissioner for information; his lover, Beatrice Okoh, who works in the ministry of finance; and Ikem Osodi, the gadfly editor of the National Gazettehave all known His Excellency since their youths (to them, he is merely Sam) and they have watched with dismay his moral deterioration and his assumption of totalitarian powers. Ikem, in particular, is unable to repress his stinging criticism of the Emperor, and his outspoken denunciations make Chris and Beatrice fear for his safety. As events move toward a violent crisis, Achebe skillfully demonstrates how the social fabric has been destroyed in Third World countries that have been alienated from their rich mythic roots by colonial powers. Though his major characters speak upper-class English to each other, they converse in the local patois with people of humble station. While this language is quite difficult for readers to comprehend, it serves to illustrate the alienation of the British-educated civil servants from the culture of their ancestors, and at the same time reveals the beauty and dignity of the folklore by which moral and behavioral standards were once transmitted. In the end, the novel must be deemed successful in its powerful portrayal of a society in crisis.
Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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"[The writer] in whose company the prison walls fell down' Nelson Mandela "The Founding Father of the African novel in English" - The Guardian
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