Thursday, February 19, 2009

Chinua Achebe on Writing

In Manila, I chanced on a set of Chinua Achebe's books on sale. Only P50 each! How could I keep away? I like Achebe for the simplicity and elegance of his prose. He never uses big words, but he arranges them in ways which are unexpected and new.

I'm currently reading "Home and Exile" before I pass it on to my sensei Mac Tiu. "Home and Exile" is a thin volume consisting of three essays about colonialism in fiction. Here are some worthy excerpts:

There is such a thing as absolute power over narrative. Those who secure this privilege for themselves can arrange stories about others pretty much where, and as, they like. Just as in corrupt, totalitarian regimes, those who exercise power over others can do anything.

And another one, this time on being a writer:

For me there are three reasons for becoming a writer. The first is that you have an overpowering urge to tell a story. The second, that you have intimations of a unique story waiting to come out. And the third, which you learn in the process of becoming, is that you consider the whole project worth the considerable trouble -- I have sometimes called it terms of imprisonment -- you will have to endure to bring it to fruition.


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