'The Empire Writes Back' will have been a fitting title for this essay collection. (especially since Achebe doesn't fail to pay a tribute to Salman Rushdie's essay of the same name published in 1982). Because that is what the running theme here is - a reclamation of a land and a culture that was wrested away with brutal force and made a part of an 'Empire' which still insists on viewing that period as one of glory and not characterized by the most despicable human rights violation ever and a heralding of the arrival of the African voice in the world literary scene.
Achebe is slowly turning into my personal literary hero. His wry humor, elegant prose, mildly sardonic tone and passion for social justice exude a quiet confidence that's hard not to respect. His writings continue to make me question certain pet notions and ideas that are so deeply entrenched in each one of us that they seem like indisputable facts and consequently elude further introspection. My penchant for unconsciously comparing Latin American, South East Asian and African writing to the style, technique and language of the Americans and Europeans I admire and immediately pronouncing judgment on them on the basis of said parameters has to go away now I realize. It doesn't matter if African, Asian and other writers of the Commonwealth have the same degree of grammatical precision and structural integrity to their prose as their European and American counterparts. It matters that their voices be heard and universally acknowledged and the overlooked truths their narratives highlight be analyzed without bias.
Although this collection consists of 3 essays titled 'My Home Under Imperial Fire', 'The Empire Fights Back' and 'Today, the Balance of Stories' it should be considered a single body of work or discourse intended to dispel certain flawed notions about African people who are often derogatorily referred to as 'tribes' and automatically assigned a lesser status than their white counterparts....
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