Francis Abiola Irele, formerly Professor of French, University of Ibadan, Nigeria, was for several years Professor of African, French, and Comparative Literature at the Ohio State University. After retiring from Ohio State in 2003, he became Visiting Professor of African and African American Studies at Harvard University. Among his many publications are The Cambridge History of African and Caribbean Literature (edited with Simon Gikandi) and two collections of essays, The African Experience in Literature and Ideology and The African Imagination: Literature in Africa and the Black Diaspora. He is a contributing editor to The Norton Anthology of World Literature and General Editor of the Cambridge Studies in African and Caribbean Literature series.
Peter Frances James offers a superb narration of Nigerian novelist Achebe's deceptively simple 1959 masterpiece. In direct, almost fable-like prose, it depicts the rise and fall of Okonkwo, a Nigerian whose sense of manliness is more akin to that of his warrior ancestors than to that of his fellow clansmen who have converted to Christianity and are appeasing the British administrators who infiltrate their village. The tough, proud, hardworking Okonkwo is at once a quintessential old-order Nigerian and a universal character in whom sons of all races have identified the figure of their father. Achebe creates a many-sided picture of village life and a sympathetic hero. A good recording of this novel has been long overdue, and the unhurried grace and quiet dignity of James's narration make it essential for every collection.‘Peter Josyph, New York
Published in 1958, Achebe's seminal work heralds the revolution that preceded Nigerian independence in 1960. Designed to teach students about the rich Igbo heritage, it tells the heartbreaking tale of Okonkwo's single-minded rise to success among his people and the surrounding villages, followed by a heinous act, banishment, and descent into total failure. James narrates this story of the European colonization of Africa, the encroachment of Christianity, and the disintegration of traditional cultures with appropriate gravitas and measured pacing, bringing out all of the nuances of the text. Students can listen to Achebe read a part of the story (http://ow.ly/kwRJe) and then watch a portion of a production that includes the same text (http://ow.ly/kwS2a) for comparison. Round out the unit with PBS journalist Jeffrey Brown's interview with Achebe on the 50th anniversary of the publication of Things Fall Apart (http://ow.ly/kwSpg). (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.