From the celebrated author of Things Fall Apart and winner of the Man Booker International Prize comes a new collection of autobiographical essays—his first new book in more than twenty years.
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 the table of contents.
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 is 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. He was appointed Senior Research Fellow at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, and began lecturing widely abroad.
From 1972 to 1975, and again from 1987 to 1988, Mr. Achebe was Professor of English at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and also for one year at the University of Connecticut, Storrs.
Cited in the London Sunday Times as one of the “1,000 Makers of the Twentieth Century” for defining “a modern African literature that was truly African” and thereby making “a major contribution to world literature,” Chinua Achebe has published novels, short stories, essays, and children’s books. His volume of poetry, Christmas in Biafra, written during the Biafran War, was the joint winner of the first Commonwealth Poetry Prize. Of his novels, Arrow of God won the New Statesman—Jock Campbell Award, and Anthills of the Savannah was a finalist for the 1987 Booker Prize. Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe’s masterpiece, has been published in fifty different languages and has sold more than two million copies in the United States since its original publication in 1959.
Mr. Achebe has received numerous honors from around the world, including the Honorary Fellowship of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a Foreign Honorary Membership of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, as well as more than thirty honorary doctorates from universities in England, Scotland, the United States, Canada, Nigeria, and South Africa. He is also the recipient of Nigeria’s highest honor for intellectual achievement, the Nigerian National Order of Merit, and of Germany’s Friedenstreis des Beutschen Buchhandels for 2002. In 2007 he won the International Man Booker Prize.
Mr. Achebe is the David and Marianna Fisher University Professor and Professor of Africana Studies at Brown University. For over fifteen years, he was the Charles P. Stevenson Professor of Languages and Literature at Bard College. He lives with his wife in Providence, RI. They have four children.
Meet Chinua Achebe on his book tour.