I HATE when critics compare African novelists – whether they be Anglophone, Francophone or Lusophone – to Chinua Achebe. It’s as though Achebe is the only writer to have ever written anything noteworthy on the Continent and that all writers thereafter must somehow be compared to his work. Don’t get me wrong, he was a brilliant man; but there are countless other outstanding African authors (both past and present) who will blow you away in a variety of unique ways.
With that said, I have to make a statement that I swore I would never make about any author, particularly one coming from Nigeria. Buchi Emecheta’s The Joys of Motherhood reminds me of Achebe’s writing, specifically, Things Fall Apart. There I said it.
Both authors are from Nigeria, Igbo/Ibo roots to be specific, and both write in a descriptive and introspective manner. Both novels tackle social and cultural norms from a gender specific lens – Emecheta from a woman’s perspective and Achebe from a man’s – rooted in their village’s practices. Both protagonists also fall victim to their loyalty for tradition, obligation, and ancestral legacy. I use the word victim because historic events play a strong background role in both novels, a role which neither protagonist foresaw.
For me, the similarities don’t end there but the purpose of this post is to ask our readers for their thoughts on the two novels …