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People of the City


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A vivid coming-of-age tale set in a big Nigerian city about a young man trying to make his way as a journalist and band leader in the big city.

About the Author

Cyprian Ekwensi (1921-2007) wrote novels, short stories, and children's books. He is from Nkwelle Ezunaka, Anambra State, Nigeria, and his father was a known storyteller and elephant hunter. He worked at the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation and the Ministry of Information, which he directed during the First Republic. He resigned from his position at the ministry before the Nigerian Civil War in the late 60s. Ekwensi wrote hundreds of short stories, radio and television scripts, and several dozen works of fiction, including Drummer Boy and Jagua Nana. In 1968, he won the Dag Hammarskj ld International Prize in Literature and in 2001 he was made an MFR. He became a fellow of the Nigerian Academy of Letters in 2006, the year before his death.


Electric. . . . Ekwensi paints a vivid picture of cultural cacophony in a modernizing Nigeria filled with colonizers, revolutionaries, dreamers, and schemers. The mesmerizing tale and its feckless, frustrating protagonist provide stark glimpses into the class struggles, misogyny, and violence that often lurk beneath a bustling metropolis. --Publishers Weekly

Lagos was a central character in much of Ekwensi's fiction, portrayed with undertones of the noir thriller, his episodic style mirroring the urgency and restlessness of the city. His lower-middle-class characters . . . are stripped naked in public, confront nasty landlords, battle inane bureaucracies, have pepper put into their vaginas, die of political violence, seduce powerful politicians, commit murder-suicides and contract sexually transmitted diseases; one senses verisimilitude in Ekwensi's unabashed melodrama. . . . The women did a lot of hip-swinging but they were often wonderfully bold. --Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, The Guardian People of the City tells the story of a young crime reporter who doubles as a bandleader in a large west African city. As one British critic wrote, the novel said more about west Africa than 50 government reports. --Shola Adenekan, The Guardian One of the most prolific African writers of the twentieth century. --Charles Larson "Ekwensi saw [Nigeria's] contradictions more clearly than most. And he was unusual, at least among what we might call the first generation of Nigerian writers, in not merely depicting women as people in their own right, with their own wants and desires, but being unafraid to explore the kind of power they can exert over men. . . . He also remains the most cosmopolitan, the most at ease with exploring the 'existential loss' that is the modern Nigerian condition." --Adewale Maja-Pearce, The Baffler

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