Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Anthills of the Savannah

Sometime back I finally read another book from Achebe. I liked this book, though not so much as the first one - Things fall apart. That was certainly Achebe's masterpiece and I was expecting something comparable when I sat down with this one. That is the folly of expectations and that is also the trouble with beginning on an author with his signature work.
Anthills of Savannah is a story of a nation facing the political conundrum of a new found independence. After years of ruling, it is expected that a country finds itself unable to take charge of a freedom, which it severely struggled to obtain. It is almost like you wait for exams to get over and when they are finally over you do not know how to manage the free time since you have been so focused on seeing them through that your head is heavily blocked up with that.
Achebe describes this confusion through the lives of three political leaders and through alternation of narration tries to give a wholesome picture. However at times, the different narrators do not seem too different but appear as one. In that he has failed to give multitude to his thought.
The book is dark, almost inadvertently it appears, because it starts off with satire and winds up being a serious story.very serious indeed. There appears to be a lot of confusion in the book -not just in the story, but in the writing style also.
In the end, it is a political work, and describes the aftermath of colonialism. Many countries witnessed such destabilization after they freed themselves. Some more than others. Even our country sometime appears to be in similar clutches at time when the Government looks unsteady like a house of cards, ready to tumble down with the merest flicker. But hopefully those are the turbulences of a mature nation rather than a stumbling one.

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