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Ama Ata Aidoo (1942–2023)

Author of Changes: A Love Story

17+ Works 896 Members 17 Reviews 2 Favorited

About the Author

Born near Dominase, in central Ghana, Aidoo is today the leading Ghanaian writer. She was the daughter of a chief and grew p in a royal family. Educated at the University of Ghana at Legon, where she graduated in 1964 with a B.A. in English, Aidoo worked as a Research Fellow at the Institute of show more African Studies in Legon. Ghana's gaining its independence in 1965 greatly influenced Aidoo. Her writings reveal her interest in the historical events that have shaped her country. She believes that the status of women in Africa and the struggle for women's liberation cannot be distinct from the nation's struggles. She made her debut as writer with a short story, "No Sweetness Here" (1965). The story had previously won a prize in a short-story competition. This story provides the title of Aidoo's first collection of stories. Aidoo is better known as a playwright, and her two earliest plays, Anowa (first published in 1970) and The Dilemma of a Ghost (first published in 1965) remain popular. Aidoo has taught in several parts of Africa as well as the United States. She now lives and teaches in Harare, Zimbabwe. (Bowker Author Biography) show less

Works by Ama Ata Aidoo

Changes: A Love Story (1991) 300 copies
Our Sister Killjoy (1977) 211 copies
The Dilemma of a Ghost/Anowa (1965) 109 copies
African Love Stories: An Anthology (2006) — Editor — 38 copies
The Girl Who Can (1999) 30 copies
Anowa (1970) 13 copies
Angry Letter in January (1992) 4 copies
Birds and other poems (1989) 2 copies
Cambiare (2022) 1 copy

Associated Works

The Penguin Book of Women Poets (1978) — Contributor — 297 copies
Modern Poetry from Africa (1963) — Contributor, some editions — 267 copies
African Short Stories (1985) — Contributor — 147 copies
The Penguin Book of International Women's Stories (1996) — Contributor — 114 copies
Under African Skies: Modern African Stories (1997) — Contributor — 92 copies
Unwinding Threads: Writing by Women in Africa (1983) — Contributor — 73 copies
Postcolonial Plays: An Anthology (2001) — Contributor — 32 copies
One World of Literature (1992) — Contributor — 24 copies
African Literature: an anthology of criticism and theory (2007) — Contributor — 23 copies
The Heinemann Book of African Women's Poetry (1995) — Contributor — 22 copies
An African Quilt: 24 Modern African Stories (2012) — Contributor — 17 copies
The word is here : poetry from modern Africa (1973) — Contributor — 5 copies
African Women Playwrights (2008) — Contributor — 4 copies

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Reviews

I loved the stories and the way they explored culture! Not going to lie, I struggled a bit with the play format since I don't read it all that often. I would absolutely love to see these performed! I managed to find a recording of one and a reading of the other online after reading the book and they definitely added to my experience, even if they weren't super high resolution or anything - I definitely feel like plays hit so much harder when you actually experience them. I can only imagine how powerful these must be if you are in the audience.… (more)
 
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TheAceOfPages | 1 other review | Apr 9, 2024 |
I stumbled on this among my grandmother's books - what a treasure. So I had been meaning to read it this year after I found it, then heard shortly after that that Ama Ata Aidoo had passed. So then I DEFINITELY had to get around to reading it. I am a short story collection reader! This is a great one! Aidoo writes about Ghana and now this collection is over 50 years old. But it's still a great one to pick up. Some things might go over my head, but that is understandable, I haven't read much from Ghana or even from the 1970s? But wow, this must have been fresh stuff 50 years ago! It still seems so.… (more)
 
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booklove2 | 2 other reviews | Jul 4, 2023 |
156/2020. This is a social realist novel about a middle class urban Ghanaian woman who falls out of marriage and into love, with all the consequences for herself and her extended family, told from an African feminist perspective. The author manages to be both sharply perceptive and amusingly witty without sacrificing realistic portrayal. It's also freer in form than traditional European novels, with more influence from oral culture and West African conversational style. Thoroughly enjoyable.

Quotes

I'm laughing so hard: "years of having a clever woman in his home and an unbroken chain of rather stupid heads of department at his place of work had taught him not to take anything for granted in a discussion."

LMAO: "Indeed the only opinion Musa Musa could possibly have shared with African heads of state is that any discussion of mortality is treason and punishable, by death of course, if the circumstances are right."

Grandma on marriage and society: "[...] remember a man always gained in stature through any way he chose to associate with a woman. And that included adultery. Especially adultery. Esi, a woman has always been diminished in her association with a man. A good woman was she who quickened the pace of her own destruction. To refuse, as a woman, to be destroyed, was a crime that society spotted very quickly and punished swiftly and severely."
[...]
"Life on this earth need not always be some humans being gods and others being sacrificial animals. Indeed, that can be changed."

On adaptive traditions: "All the spirits should have been appeased: ancient coastal and Christian, ancient northern and Islamic, the ghost of the colonisers."
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spiralsheep | 8 other reviews | Dec 1, 2020 |
This is a fiery book. The main character, “our sister” or Sissie for short, travels from Ghana to Europe, and comments on her life as “the african woman” amongst the white natives.

The portions set in Bavaria and London are the angriest: Sissie is deeply, intensely angered at the natives’ patronizing attitudes (intentional or otherwise), their cluelessness, their rationalizations, their happiness, the size of German food portions, the juicy plums that are so delicious. It’s an anger stemming from centuries of injustice that lashes out and that is confused in settling on targets but that is too wild and too real and too just to be anything else.

The final portion of the book, a letter to an ex-lover, I felt was the best part of the book. It’s where Sissie’s anger is turned on African immigrants whose post facto justifications for not helping the mother country is infuriating to her. This section, too, is confused and not always reasonable, but it provides more of an explanation for why Sissie feels the way she does, and that explicit insight into a deeply angry person’s motivations unlocks an appreciation for the character that wasn’t there for me in the earlier parts.

Dealing with centuries of systematic oppression is not an easy thing to do: no-one who proclaims a simple solution comes off looking good. Very nicely done!
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Petroglyph | 1 other review | Dec 29, 2017 |

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