Chinua Achebe (1930-2013) was born in Nigeria. Widely considered to be the father of modern African literature, he is best known for his masterful African Trilogy, consisting of Things Fall Apart, Arrow of God, and No Longer at Ease. The trilogy tells the story of a single Nigerian community over three generations from first colonial contact to urban migration and the breakdown of traditional cultures. He is also the author of Anthills of the Savannah, A Man of the People, Girls at War and Other Stories, Home and Exile, Hopes and Impediments, Collected Poems, The Education of a British-Protected Child, Chike and the River, and There Was a Country. He was the David and Marianna Fisher University Professor and Professor of Africana Studies at Brown University and, for more than fifteen years, was the Charles P. Stevenson Jr. Professor of Languages and Literature at Bard College. Achebe was the recipient of the Nigerian National Merit Award, Nigeria's highest award for intellectual achievement. In 2007, Achebe was awarded the Man Booker International Prize for lifetime achievement.
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.(February 28)
"Achebe has written a story that sidesteps both ideologies of the African experience and political agendas, in order to lead us to a deeply human universal wisdom." --Washington Post Book World
"[Anthills Of The Savannah] has wonderful satiric moments and resounds with big African laughter." --The New York Review Of Books "Achebe moves effortlessly... creating a flurry of perspectives from which his story's dramatic and disturbing events are scrutinized. Anthills Of The Savannah... will prove hard to forget. It's a vision of social change that strikes us with the force of prophecy" --USA Today