Cover image for Home and exile
Home and exile
Achebe, Chinua.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Oxford ; New York : Oxford University Press, 2000.
Physical Description:
x, 115 pages ; 21 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PR9387.9.A3 Z467 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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Chinua Achebe is Africa's most prominent writer, the author of Things Fall Apart, the best known--and best selling--novel ever to come out of Africa. His fiction and poetry burn with a passionate commitment to political justice, bringing to life not only Africa's troubled encounters withEurope but also the dark side of contemporary African political life. Now, in Home and Exile, Achebe reveals the man behind his powerful work. Here is an extended exploration of the European impact on African culture, viewed through the most vivid experience available to the author--his own life. It is an extended snapshot of a major writer's childhood, illuminating his roots as an artist. Achebe discusses his English education andthe relationship between colonial writers and the European literary tradition. He argues that if colonial writers try to imitate and, indeed, go one better than the Empire, they run the danger of undervaluing their homeland and their own people. Achebe contends that to redress the inequities ofglobal oppression, writers must focus on where they come from, insisting that their value systems are as legitimate as any other. Stories are a real source of power in the world, he concludes, and to imitate the literature of another culture is to give that power away. Home and Exile is a moving account of an exceptional life. Achebe reveals the inner workings of the human conscience through the predicament of Africa and his own intellectual life. It is a story of the triumph of mind, told in the words of one of this century's most gifted writers.

Author Notes

Albert Chinualumogu Achebe was born on November 16, 1930 in Ogidi, Nigeria. He studied English, history and theology at University College in Ibadan from 1948 to 1953. After receiving a second-class degree, he taught for a while before joining the Nigeria Broadcasting Service in 1954.

He was working as a broadcaster when he wrote his first two novels, and then quit working to devote himself to writing full time. Unfortunately his literary career was cut short by the Nigerian Civil War. During this time he supported the ill-fated Biafrian cause and served abroad as a diplomat. He and his family narrowly escaped assassination. After the civil war, he abandoned fiction for a period in favor of essays, short stories, and poetry.

His works include Things Fall Apart, Arrow of God, No Longer at Ease, A Man of the People, Anthills of the Savannah, and There Was a Country. He also wrote four children's books including Chike and the River and How the Leopard Got His Claws. In 2007, he won the Man Booker International Prize for his "overall contribution to fiction on the world stage." He also worked as a professor of literature in Nigeria and the United States. He died following a brief illness on March 21, 2013 at the age of 82.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

In this slim volume, Achebe, who pioneered the modern African novel with Things Fall Apart, criticizes European imperialism, which long usurped the cultures of African people. He examines the history of European writing about Africa, which always relegated Africans to the roles of subhumans, incapable of managing the rich land in which they lived and sorely in need of European guidance. Achebe also passionately celebrates African writers of his generation, who voiced African aspirations in the mid-twentieth century without speaking through the filters of imperialism and racism. He recounts his youth and education, lived in a culture he would later read about in books by Europeans, bitterly recognizing how colonization affected African history. He cites European images used to justify slavery and that persisted beyond slavery to justify imperialism and colonialism. Recognizing man to be a "story-making animal," Achebe eloquently recalls the process of repossessing a culture that, for ignoble purposes, was lost, stolen, and appropriated, demonstrating thereby that the "curative powers of stories can move the process forward." --Vanessa Bush

Publisher's Weekly Review

Though it is labeled autobiographical by the publisher, this small book, which originated as three lectures given at Harvard University in December 1998, barely covers the rudiments of Achebe's long and productive life (he is now 70). But the great Nigerian novelist and poet, a master of compression, needs little more than 100 pages to tell the dramatic story of the emergence of a native African literature; in the 1950s, students at English-dominated universities started speaking out against the long European tradition of depicting Africans as "a people of beastly living, without a God, laws, religion," which dates back to Captain John Lok's voyage to West Africa in 1561. "Until the lions produce their own historian," says Achebe, quoting an African proverb of uncertain provenance, "the story of the hunt will glorify only the hunter." With characteristic ease and economy, he traces the long African tradition of asserting the worth of the individual, born of Igbo myths that described each community as created separately with its own original ancestor. This notion of individuality, which made the Africans vulnerable to the Atlantic slave traders and to colonial occupation, is the same quality that defined the native African fiction and poetry that emerged in the 1950s, at the time of independence for many African nations. This slim volumeDtold in Achebe's subtle, witty and gracious styleDis one of those small gems of literary and historical analysis that readers will treasure and reread over the years. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

To love Achebe is to love Africa and language. As he is Africa's most prominent novelist and critic, this book's 100-plus pages don't seem ample enough to chronicle the development of such an extraordinary intellectual and literary talent. Furthermore, because of his lyrical prose and accessible ideas, at the end one is left desiring more of Achebe's ruminations (both serious and humorous) on empire, postcolonialism, Western writers (e.g., Joseph Conrad, Graham Greene, and Elspeth Huxley) on Africa, universal culture, and expatriation and exile. Reading Achebe is to know Africa in a way that few are able to tell. Achebe weaves anecdotes from his childhood, schooling, and writing life with African proverbs and literary and political theory to contribute beautifully to the "process of `re-storying' peoples who had been knocked silent by the trauma of all kinds of dispossession." His passion and truth are sensuous and contagious, warming one's soul. Highly recommended for all libraries.--Sherri Barnes, Univ. of California Lib., Santa Barbara (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Prefacep. ix
My Home Under Imperial Firep. 1
The Empire Fights Backp. 37
Today, the Balance of Storiesp. 73
Notesp. 107
Indexp. 111