Books Reviews

Book Review: Anthills of the Savannah by Chinua Achebe

“The female presence is there in all my novels. It seems as if it’s not important – which is the reality of how it looks in Igbo society – till you get to a crisis which threatens survival. When the British came, that was a critical moment; the men fought and lost. But there were events in Igboland where women stopped the British in their tracks. That’s been happening in my fiction; the incremental involvement of women in political matters. It’s not straightforward; it’s a struggle for power.” – Chinua Achebe

What’s The Book About?

In the fictional West African nation of Kangan, newly independent of British rule, the hopes and dreams of democracy have been quashed by a fierce military dictatorship. Chris Oriko is a member of the president’s cabinet for life, and one of the leader’s oldest friends. When the president is charged with censoring the opportunistic editor of the state-run newspaper–another childhood friend–Chris’s loyalty and ideology are put to the test. The fate of Kangan hangs in the balance as tensions rise and a devious plot is set in motion to silence a firebrand critic.

The Review

The test of a great book for me is how often I can read it and experience the same emotions I did the first time I read it. Not many books pass this test and Anthills of the Savannah is a book that I pick up at least once a year to remind me about the immense oratory skills of Chinua Achebe. I can safely say that he was ahead of his time and this is my favourite book from him!

Achebe is a subtle writer, he is rarely forceful but the stories he tells are human and intimate. Please be forewarned that this is a tragic novel but it leaves you feeling hopeful about the future.

Top Three Quotes

“You charged me with assigning to women the role of a fire-brigade after the house has caught fire and been virtually consumed. Your charge has forced me to sit down and contemplate the nature of oppression – how flexible it must learn to be, how many faces it must learn to wear if it is to succeed again and again.”

“It is only the story that can continue beyond the war and the warrior. It is the story that outlives the sound of war drums and the exploits of brave fighters. It is the story, not the others, that saves our progeny from blundering like blind beggars into the spikes of the cactus fence. The story is our escort; without it, we are blind.”

“Charity, he thundered is the opium of the privileged; from the good citizen who habitually drops ten kobo from his loose change and from a safe height above the bowl of the leper outside the supermarket; While we do our good works let us not forget that the real solution lies in a world in which charity will have become unnecessary.”

Rating

✯✯✯✯✯- Life Companion. Thank me later!

Guide to Book Review Rating
✯ – Meh
✯✯ – Read at your own risk
✯✯✯ – Hit and Miss
✯✯✯✯- Hooked
✯✯✯✯✯- Life Companion. Thank me later!

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