There’s a really interesting piece on Salon by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (they’ve spelled her name wrong in her byline) on Chinua Achebe.  I’m calling it a “piece,” but it seems they’ve just excerpted her introduction to “The African Trilogy: Things Fall Apart, No Longer at Ease, and Arrow of God.”

I don’t know a lot about Achebe, and its was great to have Adichie provide more context to his writing, and to her own, along the way:

Still, the prejudiced representation of African characters in literature could not but have had an influence on Achebe’s development as a writer. He would, years later, write a famous essay about the portrayal of Africans in Joseph Conrad’s classic novel “Heart of Darkness,” arguing not that Conrad should not have written honestly about the racism of the time, but that Conrad failed to hold an authorial rejection of that worldview.

The strangeness of seeing oneself distorted in literature – and indeed of not seeing oneself at all – was part of my own childhood. I grew up in the Nigerian university town of Nsukka in the 1980s, reading a lot of British children’s books. My early writing mimicked the books I was reading: all my characters were white and all my stories were set in England. Then I read “Things Fall Apart.” It was a glorious shock of discovery, as was “Arrow of God,” which I read shortly afterwards; I did not know in a concrete way until then that people like me could exist in literature.


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