Buchi Emecheta Emecheta, (Florence Onye) Buchi

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(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Emecheta, (Florence Onye) Buchi 1944–

Emecheta is a Nigerian-born novelist and screenwriter now residing in England. Her native Nigeria and the problems of contemporary black women are the focal concerns of her work. (See also Contemporary Authors, Vols. 81-84.)

Alice Walker

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Though [Second Class Citizen] is not stylistically exciting and is no doubt heavily autobiographical, it is no less valid as a novel. And a good one. It raises fundamental questions about how creative and prosaic life is to be lived and to what purpose, which is more than some books, written while one's children are banished from one's life, do. Second Class Citizen (and the title is unfortunate) is one of the most informative books about contemporary African life that I have read. (p. 106)

Alice Walker, "A Writer Because of, Not in Spite of, Her Children," in Ms. (© 1975 Ms. Magazine Corp.), Vol. IV, No. 7, January, 1976, pp. 40, 106.

The clash of Christian and African cultures, of generations, of ancient and modern pieties, and of group custom and the individual will are all vividly portrayed in this pure, fluid novel about a young Nigerian girl ["The Bride Price"]…. The author has a plain, engaging style and manages to convey all the lushness, poverty, superstition, and casual cruelty of a still exotic (to Western readers) culture while keeping her tale as sharp as a folk ballad. (pp. 170-71)

"Books: 'The Bride Price'," in The New Yorker (© 1976 by The New Yorker Magazine, Inc.), Vol. LII, No. 13, May 17, 1976, pp. 170-71.

Valentine Cunningham

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

The cumulative achievement of [Buchi Emecheta's] Second-Class Citizen (1975), The Bride Price (1976) and The Slave Girl (1977) has commanded my mounting admiration. In narratives of attractively readable simplicity (the sort that requires terrific art to bring off) she has successively charted the efforts of a Nigerian woman and her burgeoning family to survive the bleaknesses of a hostile London, and the problems of love and marriage in present and recently-past Nigeria. With the compelling warmth of an extraordinary capacity for investing her fictional world and her characters—even the grisliest—with deep affection she rebukes whole arrays of hostile forces. London racists, husbands, tribal traditionalists, missionary functionaries: the inhuman is everywhere laid bare. Buchi Emecheta speaks particularly, of course, for educated Nigerian women struggling against their more ignorant menfolk. But she speaks, too, for all women, for all the oppressed…. (p. 747)

Valentine Cunningham, "The Jock Campbell New Statesman Award: The Feeling of Onslaught," in New Statesman (© 1978 The Statesman & Nation Publishing Co. Ltd.), Vol. 95, No. 2463, June 2, 1978, pp. 746-47.∗

Anita Kern

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

The London-based Nigerian writer Buchi Emecheta continues to grow in talent and craftsmanship. The novel The Slave Girl, her fourth book, is her most accomplished work so far. It is coherent, compact and convincing. It also represents a considerable achievement for a writer who … has worked under very difficult conditions….

[In] general the slave girls are not too badly off. Emecheta describes their life in the context of early twentieth-century Onitsha society, in which buying and selling people was accepted as a situation that "could not be helped." It provided labor on the one hand in exchange for a roof and food on the other.

[The novel's framework is simple], but Emecheta has unobtrusively woven into it a great deal of sociological detail. All the background information is skillfully integrated, and the young girl's story makes fascinating reading. Emecheta displays considerable insight and a broadly-based knowledge of people's character traits and foibles, and she manages to endow even those characters who make only brief appearances with believable personalities.

Emecheta shows and states throughout the novel that a woman is never free, that she always belongs to others, be it a father, a brother or a social group….

The Slave Girl describes an aspect of Nigerian life which has so far been...

(The entire section is 1,487 words.)