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the Complete Review
the complete review - literary criticism

The Novels of Ayi Kwei Armah

Robert Fraser

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Title: The Novels of Ayi Kwei Armah
Author: Robert Fraser
Genre: Literary Criticism
Written: 1980
Length: 112 pages
Availability: The Novels of Ayi Kwei Armah - US
The Novels of Ayi Kwei Armah - UK
The Novels of Ayi Kwei Armah - Canada
  • A Study in Polemical Fiction
  • The Novels of Ayi Kwei Armah is out of print

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Our Assessment:

B : solid small monograph

See our review for fuller assessment.


  • "(B)eyond piquant observations which are used as substitutes for sustained analysis throughout his book, Fraser adds little to our understanding of Armah's style." - Ode Ogede, in Ayi Kwei Armah, Radical Iconoclast (see our review)

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The complete review's Review:

       Robert Fraser's 1980 monograph, The Novels of Ayi Kwei Armah covers Ayi Kwei Armah's first five novels: The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born, Fragments, Why are we so Blest ?, Two Thousand Seasons (see our review), and The Healers. The last of these was published in 1978; Armah has since published one more novel (Osiris Rising (1995)).
       Fraser begins with an introductory chapter, "The Context: Liberation and Resistance" -- suggesting his approach to Armah's "polemical fiction" (so his subtitle). He offers a useful brief introduction to Armah's life and career. Armah studied abroad during the 1960s (he attended high school (Groton) and college (Harvard) in the United States, as well getting an M.F.A. from Columbia) and his first two novels were first published in the United States -- "crucial years these for the political integrity of black Africa", as Fraser notes. Armah also worked throughout Africa. He was a translator in Algeria, and taught in Tanzania and Lesotho, making him familiar with a variety of African experiences and political experiments.
       In five chapters Fraser then goes through each of the novels, offering an overview and interpretation of each. His introductions are quite broad, making them useful even for those who are not familiar with one or more of the texts under discussion.
       Fraser's assessments are quite balanced, acknowledging specific weaknesses and pointing to the particular strengths of each work. He also takes a variety of criticisms and reactions to the novels into account, while offering a larger, more rounded opinion himself. His discussion of Two Thousand Seasons also offers a useful comparison to Yambo Ouologuem's Bound to Violence (see our review).
       A useful, concise introduction to Armah's best known works.

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Ayi Kwei Armah: Books by Ayi Kwei Armah under review: Books about Ayi Kwei Armah under review: Other books of interest under review:
  • See Index of books relating to Africa

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About the Author:

       Robert Fraser studied at the University of Sussex. He taught at the University of Cape Coast (Ghana) from 1970 to 1974, and later at the University of Leeds.

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