Chinua Achebe: A Biography

Overview

"... some 10 years of painstaking enquiry are presented with sustained energy... Ezenwa-Ohaeto has completed a remarkable feat..." —West Africa

"... a gold mine of a source for future researchers." —The Literary Griot

"... in this meticulously researched work, [Ezenwa-Ohaeto] provides a wealth of information that should prove invaluable to all future studies of Achebe." —Library Journal

"Great back-up for classes reading Achebe’s 'Things Fall Apart." —Booklist

"This pioneering biography draws upon a wealth of printed and oral sources to produce a ...

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Overview

"... some 10 years of painstaking enquiry are presented with sustained energy... Ezenwa-Ohaeto has completed a remarkable feat..." —West Africa

"... a gold mine of a source for future researchers." —The Literary Griot

"... in this meticulously researched work, [Ezenwa-Ohaeto] provides a wealth of information that should prove invaluable to all future studies of Achebe." —Library Journal

"Great back-up for classes reading Achebe’s 'Things Fall Apart." —Booklist

"This pioneering biography draws upon a wealth of printed and oral sources to produce a vivid record of the life and times of Africa’s most influential novelist. Ezenwa-Ohaeto is Achebe’s Boswell; nothing of importance, large or small, seems to escape him." —Bernth Lindfors, University of Texas

This is the first biography of the internationally acclaimed author of 'Things Fall Apart, the most widely read African novel, first published in 1958 and now a classic, with more than 12 million copies in print. 'Things Fall Apart is a defining moment in African and world literature.

Ezenwa-Ohaeto’s biography is the first comprehensive account of Achebe’s life to date. Based on extensive research and numerous interviews, this is also the first work to trace the story of Achebe’s life while putting his achievement into a social and historical context.

Indiana University Press

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Editorial Reviews

Choice
"What a treat! This biography of one of the world's most distinguished and honored writers is a welcome arrival. Achebe has done more than any other single person to draw international attention to the literature of the sub-Sahara, and he is well served by this study. The book details Achebe's life from his birth in 1930 to 1993, showing his growth as a novelist, poet, and critic. The author includes a good treatment of the firestorm that occurred after Achebe called Heart of Darkness a racist work; his work as a Biafran patriot during the aborted war of secession; and his encouragement of other African writers, primarily but not exclusively those from Nigeria, to show their work to the world. Indeed, to read this book is to be present at the beginning of the careers of such acclaimed writers as Ngugi (Ngugi) wa Thiongo, Wole Soyinka, and Christopher Okigbo. This rewarding study veers now and then toward hagiography (Ezenwa-Ohaeto is a former student), but that is not a serious flaw. Those wishing for a closer reading of the novels (which was clearly not the author's intent) should read Simon Gukandi's Reading Chinua Achebe (CH, May'92) or Chinua Achebe: A Celebration, edited by Kirsten Petersen and Anna Rutherford (1991). Every library should add Ezenwa-Ohaeto's book to its collection." —P. W. Stine, Gordon College, Choice, May 1998

— P. W. Stine, Gordon College

Choice - P. W. Stine

"What a treat! This biography of one of the world's most distinguished and honored writers is a welcome arrival. Achebe has done more than any other single person to draw international attention to the literature of the sub-Sahara, and he is well served by this study. The book details Achebe's life from his birth in 1930 to 1993, showing his growth as a novelist, poet, and critic. The author includes a good treatment of the firestorm that occurred after Achebe called Heart of Darkness a racist work; his work as a Biafran patriot during the aborted war of secession; and his encouragement of other African writers, primarily but not exclusively those from Nigeria, to show their work to the world. Indeed, to read this book is to be present at the beginning of the careers of such acclaimed writers as Ngugi (Ngugi) wa Thiongo, Wole Soyinka, and Christopher Okigbo. This rewarding study veers now and then toward hagiography (Ezenwa-Ohaeto is a former student), but that is not a serious flaw. Those wishing for a closer reading of the novels (which was clearly not the author's intent) should read Simon Gukandi's Reading Chinua Achebe (CH, May'92) or Chinua Achebe: A Celebration, edited by Kirsten Petersen and Anna Rutherford (1991). Every library should add Ezenwa-Ohaeto's book to its collection." —P. W. Stine, Gordon College, Choice, May 1998

From the Publisher
"What a treat! This biography of one of the world's most distinguished and honored writers is a welcome arrival. Achebe has done more than any other single person to draw international attention to the literature of the sub-Sahara, and he is well served by this study. The book details Achebe's life from his birth in 1930 to 1993, showing his growth as a novelist, poet, and critic. The author includes a good treatment of the firestorm that occurred after Achebe called Heart of Darkness a racist work; his work as a Biafran patriot during the aborted war of secession; and his encouragement of other African writers, primarily but not exclusively those from Nigeria, to show their work to the world. Indeed, to read this book is to be present at the beginning of the careers of such acclaimed writers as Ngugi (Ngugi) wa Thiongo, Wole Soyinka, and Christopher Okigbo. This rewarding study veers now and then toward hagiography (Ezenwa-Ohaeto is a former student), but that is not a serious flaw. Those wishing for a closer reading of the novels (which was clearly not the author's intent) should read Simon Gukandi's Reading Chinua Achebe (CH, May'92) or Chinua Achebe: A Celebration, edited by Kirsten Petersen and Anna Rutherford (1991). Every library should add Ezenwa-Ohaeto's book to its collection." —P. W. Stine, Gordon College, Choice, May 1998
Library Journal
There have been several good books in recent years on Achebe, the world-renowned African writer, including C.L. Innes's Chinua Achebe Cambridge, 1990 and Simon Cikandi's Reading Chinua Achebe: Language and Ideology Heinemann, 1991. But Ezenwa-Ohaeto has provided the first biography on the author. He sheds light on all aspects of Achebe's life from his youth through 1993, describing not only his literary contributions as novelist, poet, essayist, children's writer, and editor but also his role in Nigeria's stormy political history. The book is peppered with quotations by and about Achebe, many from sources not easily available. Ezenwa-Ohaeto was a former student of Achebe's at the University of Nigeria, and at times he seems to hold his subject in awe. However, in this meticulously researched work, he provides a wealth of information that should prove invaluable to all future studies of Achebe. Full primary and secondary bibliographies are included.Louis J. Parascandola, Long Island Univ., Brooklyn Campus
Booknews
A complete biography of the African writer whose novel sold millions worldwide, by a Nigerian critic and writer who was a student of Achebe's at the University of Nigeria. Begins with Achebe's early life in the 1930s, and details his schooling, his work in broadcasting, writing, publishing, and politics, and his role in encouraging other African writers. Includes b&w photos. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780253333421
  • Publisher: Indiana University Press
  • Publication date: 10/1/1997
  • Pages: 352
  • Product dimensions: 6.12 (w) x 9.25 (h) x 1.11 (d)

Meet the Author

Ezenwa-Ohaeto, poet and writer, was one of Chinua Achebe’s students at the University of Nigeria, before he took a doctorate at the University of Benin. He has taught at Ahmadu Bello University, Anambra State College, and Alvan Ikoku Institute as well as the Universities of Mainz and Bayreuth.

Indiana University Press

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Table of Contents

Chapter 1. The Catechist’s Son: Missionaries & Masquerades, 1930-5
Chapter 2. Starting at the Crossroads: Primary School, 1936-43
Chapter 3. The Ogidi Boy: Government College, 1944-7
Chapter 4. The Young Man in Our Hall: At the University, 1948-53
Chapter 5. Stepping into the World: Teaching & Talks, 1954-7
Chapter 6. On the Path of Life: The Young Controller, 1958-60
Chapter 7. Striding to the Frontier: The Voice of Nigeria, the Married Man, the General Editor, 1960-2
Chapter 8. Walking Under a Gathering Storm: From Arrow of God to a Man of the People, 1963-6
Chapter 9. Retreat to the Citadel: Genocide, War & The Leopard’s Claws, 1966-7
Chapter 10. The Idea of Biafra: Enugu, Aba, Umuabia, 1967-9
Chapter 11. To Understand What Happened: Art in the Midst of War & Aftermath, 1969-71
Chapter 12. Constructing a Relevant Vision: Collections, Controversies, & Conferences, 1971-2
Chapter 13. An American Expedition: New Light on the Hear of Darkness, 1973-5
Chapter 14. Going Back to the Roots: Return to Nsukka, 1973-5
Chapter 15. Setting Up More Structures: Education, Culture, Politics, 1975-83
Chapter 16. The Trouble with Nigeria: An Ambassador for Literature & Justice, 1983-7
Chapter 17. What Literature Has to Do With It: Leaders, Prizes & Anthills of the Savannah, 1987-9
Chapter 18. The Legacy of an Eagle on ira\oko: Masquerades, Celebrations & Survival, 1989-93

Indiana University Press

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