Friday, July 13, 2012
An intellectual is a man who takes more words than necessary to tell more than he knows.
Love is blindness. The bedroom, Geilston Bay. July 2012.
A Man of the People is a 1966 novel by Chinua Achebe that foreshadowed a coup in post-colonial Nigeria. It tells the story of a young and educated narrator and his conflict with his former teacher who has pursued a career. One represents the changing younger generation; the other the traditional customs of Nigeria.
An interesting novel graphically illustrates the challenges faced by African nations in the 1950s and 60s, it goes some way to explaining to outsiders why the continent has struggled in the aftermath of Western colonialism. Recommended.
Andreï Makine is a Russian novelist who writes in French. Like the protagonist in his more recent novel - The Life of an Unknown Man - Makine is a man without a country (the Soviet Union of his formative years no longer in existence).
This is a novel two very different, albeit related, parts. It is part meditation on finding autonomy even as when losing all control of one’s destiny and realising happiness even in the face of appalling suffering; part exploration of how those who live in prosperous, modern societies can be cursed by excessive choice and expectations.
Makine paints his picture using broad-brush strokes, and rockets through huge swathe of history in the second portion, but this remains a powerful and eloquent novel. I really liked how he has demonstrated at once his passionate attachment, but constant bewilderment, to Russia and the celebration of individual humanity within the oppressive politics of both a totalitarian state and vacuous and indifferent celebrity culture.