Book review: There Was a Country, By Chinua Achebe
Boyd Tonkin is Senior Writer and a columnist at The Independent. An award-winning journalist, he was formerly Literary Editor at The Independent, and before that Social Policy Editor and then Books Editor at the New Statesman magazine. He has broadcast extensively for BBC arts and current affairs programmes and has judged the Booker Prize, the Whitbread biography award, the Commonwealth Writers Prize and the David Cohen Prize. In 2001, he re-founded the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize for literature in translation, and serves on its judging panel every year.
Friday 12 July 2013
The pioneering Nigerian novelist, a moral mentor to his nation, died this year but left us with this relaxed, intimate - and acute - "personal history of Biafra".
In fact, Achebe does much more than recount the blundering horrors of the 1960s civil war. He recalls his Igbo childhood and culture, reflects on colonialism and its aftermath, and castigates the curses of militarism and corruption.
Fresh-painted memories enliven even sombre events: such as his tribute to the poet-soldier – Africa's Wilfred Owen – Christopher Okigbo.
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