Monday, May 12, 2008
It’s hard to keep up with the literary talent coming out of Nigeria these days. Among the 99 books from 54 African countries that I cover in my own book, A Basket of Leaves, Nigeria is represented by nine books, more than any other country: · Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe · The Slave Girl by Buchi Emecheta · The Palm-Wine Drinkard by Amos Tutuola · Aké: The Years of Childhood by Wole Soyinka · Efuru by Flora Nwapa · Jagua Nana by Cyprian Ekwensi · Stars of the New Curfew by Ben Okri · GraceLand by Chris Abani · Waiting for an Angel by Helon Habila I had read Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda (who seems to be known by her first name) before I finished my book, but reluctantly decided not to include it. It was a fine domestic drama, but didn’t seem to shed much light on the life and culture of Nigeria. The same can’t be said of Half of a Yellow Sun, which traces the impact of the Biafran war on twin sisters and their families. This is a quietly devastating story, told in assured, flowing prose that rarely draws attention to itself. It ends not with a bang, but with a haunting absence.