Politerature often receives notes about books from an extremely private reader who prefers to be called “Backchannel Contributor.” Backchannel has deep concerns about personal information and privacy on the web and thus prefers not to comment on these posts directly. Many of the books Backchannel offers for our consideration come from The Guardian, as do these notes by Nadine Gordimer on the late Chinua Achebe, the great Nigerian author of Things Fall Apart: “A mind able to penetrate the mystery of being human.” See http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2013/mar/22/chinua-achebe-death-nadine-gordimer . Achebe died in Boston earlier this month, and there many obituaries and overviews of him and his work available, including http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2013/mar/22/novelist-chinua-achebe-dies and an excellent overview at
http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2013/mar/22/chinua-achebe . This article gets into the politics of his writing. At the side, there are links to even more articles on him. The above article
Here’s a quote I (MSW) like from Achebe: “Imaginative literature … does not enslave; it liberates the mind of man. Its truth is not like the canons of orthodoxy or the irrationality of prejudice and superstition. It begins as an adventure in self-discovery and ends in wisdom and humane conscience.” This is from “The Truth of Fiction” in Hopes and Impediments: Selected Essays (New York: Anchor/Random House, NY, 1988).
More of Backchannel’s suggestions include Eddie the King by Leo Zeilig, a portrait of a flawed young radical; The City of Devi by Manil Suri (“personal lust and political drama unite in this devilish carousel of a novel,” says Nikita Lalwani in a review ). More suggestions include an interesting mix of family relations and politics in The Iraqi Christ by Hasan Blasim; and Taiye Selasi’s Ghana Must Go . There is also an article about Taiye Selasi on her shame at her family history and how she learned to be herself in Africa at http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2013/mar/22/taiye-selasi-afropolitan-memoir .