Kindred Spirits: Chinua Achebe and Toni Morrison
Winner of the 2022 College Language Association Book Prize
Nigerian novelist Chinua Achebe--author of Things Fall Apart, one of the towering works of twentieth-century fiction--is considered the father of modern African literature. The equally revered Toni Morrison, author of masterworks such as Beloved and one of only four Americans to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature in the past half-century, acknowledged African literature's and Achebe's influence on her own work. Until now, however, there has been no book that focuses on and critically explores the rich connections between these two writers.
In Kindred Spirits, Christopher Okonkwo offers the first comparative study of Morrison and Achebe. Surveying both writers' oeuvres, Okonkwo examines significant relations between Achebe's and Morrison's personal backgrounds, career histories, artistic visions, and life philosophies, finding in them striking parallels. He then pairs a trilogy of novels by each author: Achebe's Things Fall Apart, No Longer at Ease, and Arrow of God and Morrison's Beloved, Jazz, and Paradise. Okonkwo closely analyzes these two sequences--through what he theorizes as "villagism"--as century-spanning village literature that looks to the local to reveal the universal.