Critical Overview

(Literature of Developing Nations for Students)

Achebe is revered as one of the founders of modern Nigerian literature for his historically sensitive and insightful novels about his native land and its people. He is praised for his ability to artfully combine traditional folklore and tradition with Western ideologies, and critics are quick to note that Achebe's writing is relevant to a multitude of societies, not just those of Africa. Still, Achebe is first and foremost a contemporary African writer writing novels that carry important messages about and for his people.

Upon the release of Anthills of the Savannah, critics responded by praising the author's refined insights and discipline, often attributing them to his twenty-plus-year hiatus. Nadine Gordimer of New York Times Book Review commented that the novel ‘‘is a work in which twenty-two years of harsh experience, intellectual growth, self-criticism, deepening understanding, and mustered discipline of skill open wide a subject to which Mr. Achebe is now magnificently equal.’’ A. Ravenscroft of Literary Criterion commented on the cross-country bus trip taken by Chris and his sympathizers in which Chris comes to appreciate the depth of his heritage. Ravenscroft wrote that if Achebe had ended the novel at this point, ‘‘it would have meant that in the twenty-one years since A Man of the People, Achebe had learned only to confirm the rather bleak, intellectually cynical vision of political Africa that the earlier novel tends to project. Now, however, the urban masses comprise people with individual lineaments. And the final chapter, even with its acrid question: ‘What must a people do to appease an embittered history?’ is about the unorthodox,...

(The entire section is 725 words.)