dinsdag 22 februari 2011

Het kwintet van Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Five books that matter to me

Arrow of God by Chinua Achebe

Before I read Achebe as a child in eastern Nigeria, I read only foreign children's books and so was writing the same things I was
reading -- all my characters were white and the stories were set in England or a generic 'white' country. I had not read books that had
people like me and so I thought that books couldn’t have people like me. Until I discovered Achebe. I didn't realise it at the time of course -- I was too young to be consciously aware of that sort of thing -- but later I would realise that reading Achebe was a turning point.
Arrow of God has remained one of my favorite novels. Set in 1920s Igboland, it tells the story of a remarkable priest, Ezeulu, and a
British administrator, and the ways in which colonialism brought not only political but cultural changes. It is funny and absorbing and moving and beautiful.

Waiting for the Vote of the Wild Animals by Ahmadou Kourouma

This is a funny, irreverent and unabashedly political novel; it is an enraged lament about post-colonial Africa and how the leaders who inherited supposedly independent countries went on to fail their citizens. Some leaders are closely modeled on real characters – Mobutu of Zimbabwe and Lumumba of Congo are impossible to miss. The easy summary is that colonialism has spawned monsters in the name of African leaders, and the West is the creator of these Frankensteins. The narrative is very complex. There is a wonderfully oral quality to the telling, and many stories, some anecdotes are laugh-aloud funny. This is a good example of an intelligent and important book that is also genuinely interesting.

The Color Purple by Alice Walker

I admired the fierce honesty in the single-mindedly feminist worldview of this book. It breaks many of the ‘rules’ of fiction – Walker comes close to painting all the men in a
simplistic shade of ‘bad,’ although she attempts to give the nameless Celie’s husband some redemption in the end – but the reader senses that a greater truth is at stake, that this was a story that needed to be told.

Decorations in a Ruined Cemetery by John Gregory Brown

I have always been drawn to fiction that is written in sublime language and looks at the world through a romantic-realist lens and this book does. It is the story of a white family in New Orleans and their black servant, a story of race and love and family and dreams,
it is filled with longing and melancholy and nostalgia, and it is so atmospheric, so hauntingly described, that the reader never quite emerges from the book.

Fathers and Sons by Ivan Turgenev

I read and loved this book as a teenager and have never forgotten how completely absorbed I was by Turgenev’s wonderfully evocative world. The relatives of the main character are appalled when he brings home a friend from university, because this friend is odd: he is irreverent and different. He does not recognize the old rules and norms and lies of Russian society. There was something refreshing and truthful about the friend, and about the entire novel.

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