Elleke Boehmer
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Of goddesses and stories
Gender and a new politics in Achebe

Although he published the autobiographical meditation Home and Exile in 2002, Chinua Achebe's Anthills of the Savannah (1987) remains the culmination point of his achievement as a writer of fiction, as well as being an elaboration of his earlier novelistic interests. Dealing in coded terms with Nigeria's calcified power-elite, and the bankruptcy of its post-independence nepotistic politics, Anthills of the Savannah is in many respects a sequel to the penultimate novel A Man of the People (1966), which explored themes of political corruption and military takeover on the eve of Biafra. In the fifth and final novel, Achebe's view of that elite and its position in the wider African context has become more uncompromising and – at least in theory – more attuned to gender and populist ideas. Addressing Nigeria's elite as himself a self-conscious member of that group, Achebe is unambivalent in his view of leadership as the chief pivot of political and also of economic transformation. The novel clears a space for women to be themselves the prefiguring subjects of a new social and political vision.

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Stories of women

Gender and narrative in the postcolonial nation


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