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Monday, March 25, 2013

Chinua Achebe R.I.P.

I know the New Yorker is the best place to go for an obituary. So, I found this obit for Chinua Achebe in New Yorker written by Philip Gourevitch.

Though I have heard about him (Achebe), I, personally, shamefacedly admit, haven't read any works of Achebe. So I hasten to the bookshop today to hunt for books of his: Things Fall Apart, No Longer at Ease, and A Man of the People. And, of course, Girls at War.

I have great respect for African writers in English. I would venture to say that they are far ahead of Indian writers in English (IWE). Why? Because we haven't found an idiom, as yet. An idiom like the African writers have found. They can switch easily from their own language to English and are quite unapologetic about it. Yes, their novels have a lot of African words and usages. Whereas in India we shy away from this thinking, "What will the white reader say?" So we explain our "Lota" as a "small vessel for carrying water" rather than call it "Lota." (Pardon my ignorance, this is just an example.)

Finding an idiom is a struggle for most IWE. We struggle a lot with our cultural expression in our writing and in the end turn out as foolish and fabricated. Well, it's something we as IWE have to deal with. 

John is @johnwriter on Twitter and John.Matthew on Facebook. He blogs here. His Youtube Channel Page. His novel Mr. Bandookwala, M.B.A., Harvard.

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