Monday, July 7, 2008

African Book Review

I just finished reading both "Cry, the Beloved Country" by Alan Paton, and "Things Fall Apart" by Chinua Achebe. Although I found both to be interesting reading, Paton's book is the better one by far.

Paton is a master writer. His style is elegant and musical, and the development of his characters is complex. His plot is fairly simple, yet intricate and shifting; it draws you on to its end, which is both hopeful and tragic. That's not easy.

In these three areas -- style, character and plot -- Paton far outstrips Achebe. I found Achebe's plot to be fragmented and disjointed, especially at the beginning. His characters do not change, remaining stubbornly rigid throughout. His style is adequate but not artistically engaging.

Both writers deal with the brokenness of native African culture, although Paton seems to address it more thoroughly, in a longer tome, from a more deeply spiritual perspective. He goes a step beyond Achebe in delving into both the good and the evil in that culture, although both writers do this to some degree. Achebe takes the reader more thoroughly into early African culture, but the study always seems rather superficial, compared to Paton's mining of the human heart. Fundamentally, Paton's protagonist is deeply compelling to the reader, who sympathizes with his pain, while Achebe's protagonist elicits none of these feelings.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Hello! I hope you leave a word ~ I will get back to it as soon as I can!