The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born (African Writers Series, AWS43)


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A railway freight clerk in Ghana attempts to hold out against the pressures that impel him toward corruption in both his family and his country. The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born is the novel that catapulted Ayi Kwei Armah into the limelight. The novel is generally a satirical attack on the Ghanaian society during Kwame Nkrumah’s regime and the period immediately after independence in the 1960s. It is often claimed to rank with Things Fall Apart as one of the high points of post-colonial African Literature.

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Weight 0.35 kg
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Ayi Kwei Armah

Ayi Kwei Armah, (born 1939, Takoradi, Gold Coast [now Ghana]), Ghanaian novelist whose work deals with corruption and materialism in contemporary Africa.

Armah was educated in local mission schools and at Achimota College before going to the United States in 1959 to complete his secondary education at Groton School and his bachelor’s degree at Harvard University. He thereafter worked as a scriptwriter, translator, and English teacher in Paris, Tanzania, Lesotho, Senegal, and the United States, among other places.

In his first novel, The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born (1968), Armah showed his deep concern for greed and political corruption in a newly independent African nation. In his second novel, Fragments (1970), a young Ghanaian returns home after living in the United States and is disillusioned by the Western-inspired materialism and moral decay that he sees around him. The theme of return and disillusionment continued in Why Are We So Blest? (1971), but with a somewhat wider scope. In Two Thousand Seasons (1973) Armah borrowed language from the African dirge and praise song to produce a chronicle of the African past, which is portrayed as having a certain romantic perfection before being destroyed by Arab and European despoilers. The Healers (1979), Armah’s fifth novel, explores a young man’s quest to become a practitioner of traditional medicine while the Asante empire falls to British forces. Armah took an extended break from publishing before releasing Osiris Rising in 1995. The novel examines the struggles of independent Africa and the lingering effects of colonialism. His later books included KMT: In the House of Life (2002) and The Resolutionaries (2013).

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  1. 01

    by Nana Awere Damoah

    AG’s Book Adventures

    #BookReview: The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born
    #Author: Ayi Kwei Armah 🇬🇭
    Type of work (Genre): Fiction
    Number of pages: 183
    Own or Borrowed: Own (purchased from @booknookbookstore)
    #ReadIt: at home

    #OverallImpressions: It was a good read although it didn’t quite meet my expectations. What I enjoyed most about it were the themes it tackled and the dialogues. I found it quite intriguing that the protagonist was never given a name making his character appear simultaneously forgettable and memorable. One effect of leaving him nameless is the sense I got that anyone could read themselves into his character and thus made him relatable. What I didn’t enjoy as much was the overly philosophical feel the book had especially in the earlier parts. I found myself zoning out too often and though I managed to read this book in under 48 hours, I imagine I would’ve been quicker if it kept me focused. I also have mixed feelings about how descriptive Armah is in this book. I felt he paid too much attention to it for comfort. However, the disgusting things he describes in great detail inspire you to want to do something about them (a good thing) which I suspect was his goal all along. In the end, it’s a good book though depressing in its themes especially since once again, it feels like not much has changed in present day Ghana since the overthrowing of Nkrumah.

    #SomethingThatStoodOut: the cover art and the title. I love the quirkiness of the artwork and how it captures important themes in the book about materialism and corruption. The title is interesting because of the deliberate misspelling of “Beautyful”. The connection to the story didn’t become apparent till the very last page of the book. I found it a bit too subtle though this isn’t a bad thing.

    #OverallRating:🖋🖋🖋 (out of 5 fountain pens).

    Recommend or nah: I do recommend it. It’s a classic that paints a good picture of what Ghana was like in the first decade post independence.

    Remember to follow my @agsbookadventures 📚IG & Facebook accounts dedicated to books & reading

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The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born (African Writers Series, AWS43)


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