Anthills of the Savannah Hardcover – Sep 21 1987
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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. --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.
"[The writer] in whose company the prison walls fell down' Nelson Mandela "The Founding Father of the African novel in English" - The Guardian --This text refers to the Paperback edition.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
This was the first Achebe novel I had read since his classic Things Fall Apart. At first, I thought that Anthills suffered in comparison with that masterpiece, arguably the best known and most influential African novel. After finishing the book, though, I realized that Achebe had very deftly returned to and updated the themes raised in that book.
His protagonists are Ikem, a courageous and opinionated newspaper editor; Chris, his friend and predecessor as editor, now the somewhat-reluctant Commissioner of Information in a military-led government; and Beatrice, a brilliant, beautiful mid-level civil servant, also Chris's lover. Each studied abroad and is comfortable tossing off literary references and cultural cues from the West. At the same time, each is proud of and clearly shaped by his/her African heritage.
Kangan is ruled by a smart but narrow-minded military officer who rose to power following a coup. "His Excellency" is also coincidentally and not at all implausibly an acquaintance of all three main characters, bringing a very personal dynamic to the struggles they face as Ikem sharpens his already bitter criticism of the government, to the professional discomfort of Chris and the personal alarm of Beatrice.
I found the first half of the book a little hard to get through at times.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
Great book that helps anyone who is not African to understand what is happening in Post Colonial politics in Africa. Read morePublished 13 months ago by snowboy
Achebe is underrated in his ability to create an inspiring work of world literature. This story is truly brilliant.Published on Oct. 30 1998