Buchi Emecheta Analysis

Other literary forms

(Survey of Novels and Novellas)

Books written by Buchi Emecheta (eh-mee-CHEH-tah) include a number of works for a juvenile audience, such as The Moonlight Bride (1980) and The Wrestling Match (1980). Two others, Titch the Cat (1979) and Nowhere to Play (1980), are based on stories by her daughters. Emecheta has also published an autobiography—Head Above Water (1986)—screenplays, and articles in prominent British journals and newspapers, including New Statesman, The Times Literary Supplement, and The Guardian.


(Survey of Novels and Novellas)

Described by M. Keith Booker as “probably Africa’s best known and most widely read woman novelist,” Buchi Emecheta has gained a reputation and readership that extend far beyond her native land and her adopted country of Great Britain. Her novels have been translated into many European languages, including Danish, Finnish, Greek, Hungarian, and Swedish, and also into Korean, Tamil, and Sinhalese. She was invited by the World Population Foundation to contribute an article to its Brief aan de 6 miljardste wereldburger (1999; letters to the sixth billionth world citizen). Emecheta’s article, along with those of such major literary figures as Ariel Dorfman, Salman Rushdie, and Pramoedya Ananta Toer, was translated into Dutch and then published in Hebrew (Mikhtavim le-ezrah ha-shishah-mili’ard, 1999). She won the 1978 New Statesman/Jock Campbell Award for The Slave Girl, was named the Best Black Writer in Britain in 1980, and was named one of the best young British writers in 1983. In 2005, she was appointed an honorary officer of the Order of the British Empire.

Discussion Topics

(Masterpieces of World Literature, Critical Edition)

What are the differences in the roles and expectations for Buchi Emecheta’s female protagonists and for their mothers or other female characters?

Naming is important in African culture and in Emecheta’s novels. Discuss the importance of the characters’ names as well as the significance of her novels’ titles.

The practice of polygamy is seen in the works of Emecheta, yet none of the protagonists’ fathers in Second-Class Citizen, The Bride Price, and The Slave Girl has more than one wife. Speculate upon the reasons for this break with tradition in Emecheta’s works.

What similarities can be seen in Emecheta’s Second-Class Citizen, The Bride Price, and The Slave Girl?

What philosophical lessons can be derived from The Bride Price and The Slave Girl?


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Emecheta, Buchi. Interview by Adeola James. In In Their Own Voices: African Women Writers Talk. Portsmouth, N.H.: Heinemann, 1990. Provides the author’s candid views about her life and work.

Frank, Katherine. “The Death of a Slave Girl: African Womanhood in the Novels of Buchi Emecheta.” World Literature Written in English 21 (Fall, 1982). Criticism focusing on the portrayal of women and the conflict between traditional roles and personal freedoms.

Katrak, Ketu. “Womanhood/Motherhood: Variations on a Theme in Selected Novels of Buchi Emecheta.” Journal of Commonwealth Literature 22, no. 1 (1987). Addresses a major concern of most of Emecheta’s writings: the multiple roles of women.

Pordzik, Ralph. Quest for Postcolonial Utopia: A Comparative Introduction to the Utopian Novel in the New English Literatures. New York: Peter Lang, 2001. Taking a global perspective, introduces critical utopian and dystopian literature of postcolonial writers, including Emecheta, from Africa, Australia, New Zealand, India, and Canada.

Sougou, Omar. Writing Across Cultures: Gender, Politics, and Difference in the Fiction of Buchi Emecheta. New York: Rodopi, 2002. An analysis of the personal, political, and aesthetic in Emecheta’s fiction. Chapters include discussions of autobiography, protest, consciousness, and Emecheta’s African popular novels.

Umeh, Marie, ed. Emerging Perspectives on Buchi Emecheta. Trenton, N.J.: Africa World Press, 1996. Presents an analysis of Emecheta’s feminist writings on women’s life experiences, the sexual politics of Igbo society, and African culture in general.

Uraizee, Joya. This Is No Place for a Woman: Nadine Gordimer, Nayantara Sahgal, Buchi Emecheta, and the Politics of Gender. Trenton, N.J.: Africa World Press, 2000. Explores the shifting and evolving identities of women living in postcolonial societies.