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The Beautyful Ones are Not Yet Born (Heinemann African Writers Series) [Paperback]

Ayi Kwei Armah
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
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Book Description

31 Mar 1989 Heinemann African Writers Series
The central story in this book tells of an upright man resisting the temptations of easy bribes and easy satisfactions and winning for his honesty nothing but scorn.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Heinemann; 1 edition (31 Mar 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0435905406
  • ISBN-13: 978-0435905408
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 110,582 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonder in African literature 14 Jun 2007
This book is in my opinion one of the most important works of African literature to be read, as much as for example Things Fall Apart by Achebe. Armah produces a more exclusive focus on the corruption that is rife in postcolonial Ghana. For those who do not know much about the corruption, this novel is thus enlightening and the narrator's scepticism yet ardent hope for the future is what draws you into the book.

There are parts in the book which are so beautiful that leave you feeling that even a film could not provide a more powerful and sweeping image than the book. However, although this is a novel, images are what strike you as important when reading it, particularly those that display the allure of money, status and power that Armah succesfully exposes.

The man in the novel is never named and this is an important aspect of the book for you to think about. After reading this novel, it can never be forgotten because it is intense and although often the narrator describes a wasteland it is ironically his values and persona that seem beautiful. This is what leaves you feeling sad that the narrator and other characters do not have what they deserve in their lives. So although the future of the country is undecided, Armah displays the power of the human spirit and the values of society as being of utmost importance for the future of postcolonial Ghana.
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34 of 36 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
this is a book that concentrates on the issues of bribery and misery. The author uses great imagery to define his idea of corruption within the post-colonial state of Ghana. Having studied this book at the School of Oriental and African Studies I feel that it is a must for all African Studies students. Anybody concerned or interested in the systems of African corruption will be given a terryfing but true insight into the horrors of clientalism. The images of digust are so vast that they can be put into categories of disgust. The constant reminders of greasy hands and moist textures provides great imagery for a book in which the clientalist system of bribery is revealed at its most embarrasing angle. This book is one of African popular cultures most precious moments, read it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars African Classic 8 Nov 2013
By 'Delia
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
One of those books one must read to begin to understand Africa and its 'quirks'. A wonderfully written book that one can never tire of reading - again and again.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Published in 1968, this was Armah's first novel. It depicted corruption and societal breakdown in a newly independent African nation, seen through the eyes of a citizen disillusioned by the materialism and decay he encountered, who found himself struggling to maintain his integrity.

The novel was based on the experience of Ghanaians in the late 1950s and 1960s under the administration of Kwame Nkrumah. The nation's first leader after independence, he mismanaged the economy and was overthrown two years before the book's publication. The work's considered to be among the key novels that began to reflect criticism of newly established native African governments following the exhilaration of freedom from colonial rule.

Regrettably, I found the first two-thirds of the book to be plodding and often obscure, and the action uninteresting. It took 60 pages, one-third of the novel, to get the main character from a bus to an office to his home, through conversations with a bus driver, a relative, his wife and a teacher. Initially, there was little description of the characters' thoughts other than through dialogue. New characters were introduced abruptly, with little clue as to who they were; for example, the woman named Manaan in Chapter 6. Sixty pages into the book, a nameless, first-person narrator began speaking for half a chapter before dropping out.

Too many of these passages went something like this:

"Question bounces off unheeded as the naked man gets up off the bed, takes a pencil from the top of the bookcase near the bed and sticks it in to mark the page. He puts the book on the case and sits back down on the bed, pushing his back against the head and drawing up his knees.
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