There is no doubt, Albert Chinualumogu Achebe upcoming memoir There Was a Country, A Personal History of Biafra is arguably the most anticipated book launch in this millennium.
There Was A Country, A Personal History of Biafra is published by Penguin and is set to be released on September 6, 2012. In this novel, Professor Achebe reckons with one of Africa’s fateful events, the Nigerian-Biafran war, which began on July 6, 1967 and ended on January 1970 - an attempted secession of Nigeria’s southeastern province as the self-proclaimed Republic of Biafra.
Penguin books synopsis describes There Was a Country as "marrying history and memoir, poetry and prose, a distillation of vivid firsthand observation and forty years of research and reflection. Wise, humane and authoritative, it will stand as definitive and reinforce Achebe’s place as one of the most vital literary and moral voices of our age."
Popularly known as Chinua Achebe, the legendary author of Things Fall Apart is considered among the most significant writers in the world. His novel Things Fall Apart published in 1958 is not only a literary masterpiece but also a required secondary and high school level reading all over the world.
According to Brown University Africana Studies Department website profile of Mr. Achebe where he is the David and Marianna Fisher University Professor of Africana Studies, things Fall Apart has sold over 12 million copies and has been translated in over 50 languages.
Though Prof. Achebe, 82 is most known worldwide for Things Fall Apart, he is also renowned in literary circles for his brilliant work as founding editor of the Heinemann African Writers Series which was founded in 1962 to provide a forum for many post-independence African writers, and ” provided texts with which many African universities could begin to redress the colonial bias then prominent in the teaching of literature.”
He edited over one hundred titles for the Series and he also edited the University of Nsukka journal Nsukkascope, founded Okike: A Nigerian Journal of New Writing and assisted in the founding of a publishing house, Nwamife Books–an organization responsible for publishing other groundbreaking work by award-winning writers.
Prof Achebe could not be reached for comment for this article but his close niece Dr Ngozi Achebe, MD – a practicing physician based in Olympia, Washington, USA who incidentally is also an author (Onaedo: the Blacksmith’s Daughter, 2010) finishing her second book said though she hasn’t read the book, nonetheless observed: “This book, There was a Country, is of course one of the most anticipated books of our times and will hopefully shed more light on the events surrounding the most important period in the history of Nigeria, even of Africa and the world at large. The plight of the Biafran people divided and simultaneously brought people together around a complex situation that was a forerunner of similar events.”
As for integrity, Prof. Achebe who has been called "the father of modern African writing” in November 2011 for the second time rejected the Nigerian government’s attempts to bestow upon him a national honor the Commander of the Federal Republic after he first declined to accept the same award in 2004.
In a statement he issued to the Nigerian press, Prof. Achebe said that he was turning down the award because "the reasons for rejecting the offer when it was first made have not been addressed let alone solved. It is inappropriate to offer it again to me".
For more information on Prof. Achebe’s There Was a Country please go to the Penguin books website.