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The beautyful ones are not yet born : a…

The beautyful ones are not yet born : a novel (original 1968; edition 1975)

by Ayi Kwei Armah

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366144,762 (3.76)21
Title:The beautyful ones are not yet born : a novel
Authors:Ayi Kwei Armah
Info:London : Heinemann, 1975.
Collections:Your library

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The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born by Ayi Kwei Armah (1968)


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This has been on my tbr for a very long time, being cited as a classic of post-colonial African literature. It is a strangely beautiful book, despite the ugliness of its story.

The narrative follows an unnamed man as he refuses to accept a bribe at work. The reader is given the impression that bribery is a way of life, and the man is laughed at and berated by his friends and family for dooming himself to poverty because of his 'perverse' morality. The man has two principle friends: Koomson, a schoolfriend turned corrupt politician, and The Teacher, a previous source of spiritual guidance who has grown tired of his own disappointment. These two provide the foils for the man as he wrestles with his own decisions in life and his hopes for the future of Ghana. The book finishes with the country in the midst of a military coup, which threatens to turn the old moralities on their heads.

Although the book is only short, there is a slow wistfulness about it, with short bursts of narrative interspersed with long, thoughtful chapters examining the man's thoughts and their place in contemporary (1960s) Ghanaian society. The simple act of being offered a bribe is enough plot to drive the book for almost its entire length, until the build up to the coup. It is a very thoughtful meditation on the foundations of Ayi Kwei Armah's home country, and rightly deserves it reputation as a classic of African literature.
  GlebtheDancer | Jul 28, 2013 |
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For Mrs. Dickson and Gwen.
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The light from the bus moved uncertainly down the road until finally the two vague circles caught some indistinct object on the side of the road where it curved out in front. The bus had come to a stop. Its confused rattle had given place to an endless spastic shudder, as if its pieces were held together by too much rust ever to fall completely apart.
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