There Was a Country By Chinua Achebe: From the legendary author of Things Fall Apart comes a long awaited memoir of coming of age with a fragile new nation only to watch it torn asunder in a tragic civil war.
The defining experience of Chinua Achebe’s life was the Nigerian civil war, also known as the Biafran War, of 1967-1970. The conflict was infamous for its savage impact on the Biafran people, Chinua Achebe’s people, many of whom were starved to death after the Nigerian government blockaded their borders. By then, Chinua Achebe was already a world-renowned novelist, with a young family to protect. He took the Biafran side in the conflict and served his government as a roving cultural ambassador, from which vantage he absorbed the war’s full horror. Immediately after the war, Achebe took refuge in an academic post in the United States, and for more than forty years he has maintained a considered silence on the events of those terrible years, addressing them only obliquely through his poetry. Now, decades in the making, comes a towering reckoning with one of modern Africa’s most fateful events, from a writer whose words and courage have left an enduring stamp on world literature.
Achebe begins his story with Nigeria’s birth pangs and the story of his own upbringing as a man and as a writer, so that we may understand both the young country’s keen sense of promise, which too quickly turned to horror, and Achebe’s view of the particular obligation of the artist, especially in a time of war. For Chinua Achebe, to be a serious writer is to be a committed writer – to speak for one’s history, one’s beliefs, and one’s people, especially when others cannot.
A marriage of history and memoir, vivid first-hand observation and decades of further research and reflection. There Was a Country is a work whose wisdom and compassion remind us of Chinua Achebe’s place as one of the great literary and moral voices of our age.
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