Honoured by Booker, restricted in Malaysia June 14, 2007Posted by elizabethwong in Democracy, Human Rights, Malaysia, Note2Self, Readings, Southeast Asia.
Chinua Achebe was honoured with the Man Booker International Prize for Lifetime Achievement this week.
The short list had included the following:- Carlos Fuentes, Doris Lessing, Ian McEwan and Salman Rushdie, John Banville, Philip Roth, Don DeLillo, Margaret Atwood, Alice Munro, Michael Ondaatje, and Amos Oz.
His masterpiece, “Things Fall Apart” (1958) is often cited and made compulsory reading for literature students, including here — well once upon a time, that is.
Since 2006, this book is restricted in Malaysia. Which is a consonant away from saying it’s banned.
God knows why. Someone wants us to be stupider and more ignorant than we already are (rotten tomatoes for this rotten government please).
Achebe is also famous for taking on Joseph Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness”, calling the text racist and asking if “a novel which celebrates this dehumanization, which depersonalizes a portion of the human race, can be called a great work of art”; to which he replied,
“No it cannot.”
(“Heart of Darkness” isn’t restricted here. The plot thickens?)
The essay, though written in 1975, deserves a fresh reading in this age of “War Against Terror”, where evidently, a process of dehumanising of the Other is underway to project an antithesis of Europe/West and of civilisation so defined.
Please also see: Sharon Bakar on Achebe.