From the legendary author of Things Fall Apart comes this long-awaited memoir recalling Achebe’s personal experiences of and reflections on one of his country’s most tragic civil wars
The defining experience of Chinua Achebe’s life was the Nigerian Civil War, also known as the Biafran War of 1967-1970. The war was infamous around the world for its savage impact on the Biafran people, who were blockaded by the Nigerian government and starved to death. As a roving cultural ambassador for his government, Achebe absorbed the war’s full horror from this unique vantage. Immediately after the war, Achebe took refuge in an academic post in the United States, and for over forty years he maintained a considered silence on the events of those terrible years, addressing them only obliquely through his poetry. After years in the making Achebe presented a towering reckoning with one of modern Africa’s most fateful experiences.
It has the tense narrative grip of the best fiction. It is also a revelatory entry into the intimate character of the writer’s brilliant mind and bold spirit. Achebe has created here a new genre of literature — Nadine Gordimer
Engrossing … an elegy from a master storyteller who has witnessed the undulating fortunes of a nation … his strongest expressions are his poems, scattered between chapters, offering affecting interludes — Noo Saro-Wiwa ― Guardian
Matchless … what a man; what a life — Giles Foden ― Daily Telegraph
Part-history, part-memoir, [Achebe’s] moving account of the war is laced with anger, but there is also an abiding tone of regret for what Nigeria might have been without conflict and mismanagement ― Sunday Times
A blend of historical overview, personal memoir and political manifesto … fascinating ― Evening Standard
About the Author
Chinua Achebe was born in Nigeria in 1930. He was raised in the large village of Ogidi, one of the first centers of Anglican missionary work in Eastern Nigeria, and was a graduate of University College, Ibadan. His early career in radio ended abruptly in 1966, when he left his post as Director of External Broadcasting in Nigeria during the national upheaval that led to the Biafran War. Achebe joined the Biafran Ministry of Information and represented Biafra on various diplomatic and fund-raising missions. He was appointed Senior Research Fellow at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, and began lecturing widely abroad. For over fifteen years, he was the Charles P. Stevenson Professor of Languages and Literature at Bard College. He was the David and Marianna Fisher University Professor and professor of Africana studies at Brown University. Chinua Achebe wrote over twenty books – novels, short stories, essays and collections of poetry – and received numerous honours from around the world, including the Honourary Fellowship of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, as well as honourary doctorates from more than thirty colleges and universities. He was also the recipient of Nigeria’s highest award for intellectual achievement, the Nigerian National Merit Award. In 2007, he won the Man Booker International Prize for Fiction. He died in 2013.