Even Chinuachebea Achebe is getting on the African literary renaissance bandwagon! Alright, alright. I know. We’re talking about Chinua Achebe. He, the “grandfather of modern African literature,” needs no introduction and certainly no reason to jump on any bandwagon. But his publishing now, at this time should really give a boost to other African writers, shouldn’t it? I love it.

In October, the celebrated author of Things Fall Apart and winner of the Man Booker International Prize will release his first new book in more than 20 years, “The Education of a British-Protected Child,” a collection of old and recent essays that piece together the arc of his literary life. His story, and that of his native Nigeria, are closely entwined.

Chinua Achebe’s characteristically measured and nuanced voice is everywhere present in these seventeen beautifully written pieces. In a preface, he discusses his historic visit to his Nigerian homeland on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of Things Fall Apart, the story of his tragic car accident nearly twenty years ago, and the potent symbolism of President Obama’s election. In “The Education of a British-Protected Child,” Achebe gives us a vivid portrait of growing up in colonial Nigeria and inhabiting its “middle ground,” recalling both his happy memories of reading novels in secondary school and the harsher truths of colonial rule. In “Spelling Our Proper Name,” Achebe considers the African-American diaspora, meeting and reading Langston Hughes and James Baldwin, and learning what it means not to know “from whence he came.” The complex politics and history of Africa figure in “What Is Nigeria to Me?,” “Africa’s Tarnished Name,” and “Politics and Politicians of Language in African Literature.” And Achebe’s extraordinary family life comes into view in “My Dad and Me” and “My Daughters,” where we observe the effect of Christian missionaries on his father and witness the culture shock of raising “brown” children in America.

Charmingly personal, intellectually disciplined, and steadfastly wise, The Education of a British-Protected Child is an indispensable addition to the remarkable Achebe oeuvre.

Read about it here.

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