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Arrow of God by Chinua Achebe

Arrow of God by Chinua Achebe
Arrow of God by Chinua Achebe

The second novel in Chinua Achebe’s masterful African trilogy, following Things Fall Apart and preceding No Longer at Ease

Arrow of God by Chinua Achebe – When Things Fall Apart ends, colonial rule has been introduced to Umuofia, and the character of the nation, its values, freedoms, religious and socio-political foundations have substantially and irrevocably been altered. Arrow of God, the second novel in Chinua Achebe’s TheAfrican Trilogy, moves the historical narrative forward. This time, the action revolves around Ezeulu, the headstrong chief priest of the god Ulu, which is worshipped by the six villages of Umuaro.

The novel is a meditation on the nature, uses, and responsibility of power and leadership. Ezeulu finds that his authority is increasingly under threat from rivals within his nation and functionaries of the newly established British colonial government. Yet he sees himself as untouchable. He is forced, with tragic consequences, to reconcile conflicting impulses in his own nature—a need to serve the protecting deity of his Umuaro people; a desire to retain control over their religious observances; and a need to gain increased personal power by pushing his authority to the limits. He ultimately fails as he leads his people to their own destruction, and consequently, his personal tragedy arises. Arrow of God is an unforgettable portrayal of the loss of faith, and the downfall of a man in a society forever altered by colonialism.

Book Review Lovina Northram

This is a complex book with several levels of meaning. On the surface, it seems to be a story of a traditional Nigerian priest dealing with the introduction of Christianity to his community and the tragic consequences. This is a story most of us are familiar with. On another level, the priest is Everyman, struggling to know what God wants of him. This book should be on the reading list of every college philosophy and religion class. It raises many questions about who decides what entity to worship, what our relationship is with God, how we view other religions. Then on another level, one suspects that the Nigerian author Chinua Achebe is having a good time messing with our minds! It helps to read the Book of Ezekiel while reading Arrow of God. Only someone like Achebe, who was brought up a Christian amidst traditional Nigerian gods, standing with one foot in Africa and one in the West, could paint the big picture for us. Arrow of God is like American Jazz–it weaves many themes together. Of course American Jazz is based on traditional African music.

Editorial Reviews

Review

Praise for Arrow of God

“My favorite novel.” —Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie


Praise for Chinua Achebe
 
“A magical writer—one of the greatest of the twentieth century.” —Margaret Atwood
 
“African literature is incomplete and unthinkable without the works of Chinua Achebe.” —Toni Morrison                                                                                                                                                                                                                         
 
“Chinua Achebe is gloriously gifted with the magic of an ebullient, generous, great talent.” —Nadine Gordimer
 
“Achebe’s influence should go on and on . . . teaching and reminding that all humankind is one.” —The Nation

“The father of African literature in the English language and undoubtedly one of the most important writers of the second half of the twentieth century.” —Caryl Phillips, The Observer

“We are indebted to Achebe for reminding us that art has social and moral dimension—a truth often obscured.” —Chicago Tribune

“He is one of the few writers of our time who has touched us with a code of values that will never be ironic.” —Michael Ondaatje
 
“For so many readers around the world, it is Chinua Achebe who opened up the magic casements of African fiction.” —Kwame Anthony Appiah
 
“[Achebe] is one of world literature’s great humane voices.” —Times Literary Supplement
 
“Achebe is one of the most distinguished artists to emerge from the West African cultural renaissance of the post-war world.” —The Sunday Times (London)
 
“[Achebe is] a powerful voice for cultural decolonization.” —The Village Voice
 
“Chinua Achebe has shown that a mind that observes clearly but feels deeply enough to afford laughter may be more wise than all the politicians and journalists.” —Time

“The power and majesty of Chinua Achebe’s work has, literally, opened the world to generations of readers. He is an ambassador of art, and a profound recorder of the human condition.” —Michael Dorris

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Originally published: 1964

AuthorChinua Achebe

CharactersEzeuluOducheNwakaObikaEdogoAkuebueEzidemiliNwafoT.K.

Genres: Novel, Fiction

PublishersHeinemannLondon

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