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A Man of the People Paperback – August 16, 2016

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

By the renowned author of Things Fall Apart, this novel foreshadows the Nigerian coups of 1966 and shows the color and vivacity as well as the violence and corruption of a society making its own way between the two worlds.

Review

Praise for Chinua Achebe
 
“A magical writer—one of the greatest of the twentieth century.” —Margaret Atwood
 
“African literature is incomplete and unthinkable without the works of Chinua Achebe.” —Toni Morrison                                                                                                                                                                                                                        
 
“Chinua Achebe is gloriously gifted with the magic of an ebullient, generous, great talent.” —Nadine Gordimer
 
“Achebe’s influence should go on and on . . . teaching and reminding that all humankind is one.” —The Nation
 
“The father of African literature in the English language and undoubtedly one of the most important writers of the second half of the twentieth century.” —Caryl Phillips, The Observer
 
“We are indebted to Achebe for reminding us that art has social and moral dimension—a truth often obscured.” —Chicago Tribune
 
“He is one of the few writers of our time who has touched us with a code of values that will never be ironic.” —Michael Ondaatje
 
“For so many readers around the world, it is Chinua Achebe who opened up the magic casements of African fiction.” —Kwame Anthony Appiah
 
“[Achebe] is one of world literature’s great humane voices.” —Times Literary Supplement
 
“Achebe is one of the most distinguished artists to emerge from the West African cultural renaissance of the post-war world.” —The Sunday Times (London)
 
“[Achebe is] a powerful voice for cultural decolonization.” —The Village Voice
 
“Chinua Achebe has shown that a mind that observes clearly but feels deeply enough to afford laughter may be more wise than all the politicians and journalists.” —Time
 
“The power and majesty of Chinua Achebe’s work has, literally, opened the world to generations of readers. He is an ambassador of art, and a profound recorder of the human condition.” —Michael Dorris
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; Reissue edition (January 19, 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385086164
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385086165
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.4 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #517,378 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

By Elijah Chingosho on February 4, 2006
Format: Paperback
"A Man of the People" is another excellent and moving book by the world renowned Nigerian writer, Chinua Achebe. His other classic books include: "Things Fall Apart" and "No Longer at Ease".

Chinua Achebe is a gifted story teller. From his writings, one can picture life in his native country and particularly of his Ibo clan. In "A Man of the People", Achebe depicts the life of a post-colonial African politician, who is part of the new elite that has replaced the former colonial masters. Just like the pigs in "Animal Farm by George Orwell", these political elite create a good life for themselves at the expense of the masses, the ordinary folk.

Achebe points out some of the cancer that has infected post colonial Africa of corruption, violence and unbridled greed, which created untold suffering and despair following the initial euphoria, high expectations and optimism that greeted independence. Achebe develops the story in a powerful, humorous, witty and masterful way that clearly shows why he is one of the greatest novelists to have graced the African continent. He is one of my favourite writers.

I recommend his collection of books to anyone who wishes to understand developments on the African continent as well as the high quality of African literature. The books ought to be mandatory reading for the English literature curriculum for schools and colleges in Africa.
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Format: Paperback
I haven't read all of Achebe's works, but so far this is the best. There are two main reasons: storytelling and insight to Nigeria, and by extension, Africa. If you're going to read one Achebe book, it should be this one (unless you're specifically interested in pre-colonial/early colonial setting which would be "Things Fall Apart").

Storytelling: Achebe's strengths are highlighted and weaknesses hidden in this tale. The plot is well-paced, taut and compelling. The style is sharp with a masterful balance of attention amongst setting, characters, and action. In short, "readability" or "page-turnability" is high. The pidgin English conversation may cause a few stumbles for the reader but overall it is more value-added than obstacle. Female characters are still rather more flat than males, which is usual for Achebe.

Insight: The beauty of the storytelling is matched by the contextual insight. In fact, this is the most important aspect of the story for me. One can look up Nigerian history and read that the First Republic lasted from 1960 to 1966, fraught with social unrest and ended by coup and Biafran Civil War in '67. Achebe fills in this time and place with living color - insight as to splits in society, individual motivations, and the legacy of colonial ideas mixing with traditional. He wrote the story real-time, that is, without big picture hindsight of the coup so as to align historical details. However, this makes his prescience all the more remarkable.

Specific observations:
- The single most profoundly insightful scene I've read by Achebe occurs with the post sex-with-Jean drive around Bori (a made-up name - all locations are thus as a means of self-preservation vs Nigerian state censorship and punishment).
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By A Customer on November 25, 2003
Format: Unknown Binding
This novel tells the story of a hapless schoolteacher who enters politics seeking personal revenge after his girlfriend is seduced by a sleazy politician. The book has wry humor, deftly-drawn characters, and a knowing, nuanced view of "ground reality" politics in Africa. It isn't Dostoevesky but it makes the reader laugh and think -- and it's only 149 pages!
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Format: Paperback
A depressing but all too realistic portrayal of the struggles of a newly independent (unnamed) African nation with corruption, A Man of the People (1966) is Chinua Achebe’s fourth novel and by far the most cynical to that point (though his second, No Longer at Ease, also hinted at routine corruption in government circles). A fairly short read, it retains its dramatic power throughout.

The story, told in first person, concerns Odili, an idealistic young teacher who has a connection from his schooldays with former teacher Nanga, now a very corrupt government minister. Sexual jealousy mixes with idealism (if you’re a feminist, this is probably not the book for you) as Odili decides to challenge Nanga for his parliamentary seat, a decidedly quixotic undertaking. Achebe does a wonderful job of showing Odili’s conflicted emotions (his father is a small-time functionary of Nanga’s party) and his interactions with Nanga are well constructed with the older man’s barely concealed condescension clashing with Odili’s callow, self-dramatic posturings (these interactions, of course, are told from Odili’s side as he does the narrating, so they are hardly objective).

My only two quibbles with this excellent novel are that the vernacular Achebe uses when characters slip into local dialect was almost impossible for me to understand. Also, I would have liked to see more of the inner workings of the fledgling party Odili joins when he decides to challenge Nanga. There are hints of corruption under the idealism as well as external influences, primary from the Eastern bloc.

Nevertheless, a very entertaining and instructive portrayal of life in a new post-colonial African society and well worth the few hours it takes to read.
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