This is the classic collection of Chinua Achebe's short fiction, written over twenty years and drawn from literary journals and magazines, to be made available to the wider public. The earliest, "Marriage is a Private Affair" (1952), dates back to his student days at Ibadan, Nigeria, while the latest, "Vengeful Creditor" and "Civil Peace" (1971), are stories of the Nigerian civil war. "Girls at War", the title story, is about the tragic effects of war on the civilian population, in particular on one girl, who sets out with high ideals which vanish as the war drags on and the need for food replaces the need for ideals. This collection provides an interesting cross-section of Achebe's work and the development of his key themes and distinctive style against the significant historical and political backdrop of Africa in the decades between 1952 and 1972.
Chinua Achebe (/ /, born Albert Chinualumogu Achebe; 16 November 1930 – 21 March 2013) was a Nigerian novelist, poet, professor, and critic. He was best known for his first novel and magnum opus, Things Fall Apart (1958), which is the most widely read book in modern African literature.
Raised by his parents in the Igbo town of Ogidi in southeastern Nigeria, Achebe excelled at school and won a scholarship for undergraduate studies. He became fascinated with world religions and traditional African cultures, and began writing stories as a university student. After graduation, he worked for the Nigerian Broadcasting Service (NBS) and soon moved to the metropolis of Lagos. He gained worldwide attention for Things Fall Apart in the late 1950s; his later novels include No Longer at Ease (1960), Arrow of God (1964), A Man of the People (1966), and Anthills of the Savannah (1987). Achebe wrote his novels in English and defended the use of English, a "language of colonisers", in African literature. In 1975, his lecture An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad's "Heart of Darkness" featured a famous criticism of Joseph Conrad as "a thoroughgoing racist"; it was later published in The Massachusetts Review amid some controversy.
When the region of Biafra broke away from Nigeria in 1967, Achebe became a supporter of Biafran independence and acted as ambassador for the people of the new nation. The war ravaged the populace, and as starvation and violence took its toll, he appealed to the people of Europe and the Americas for aid. When the Nigerian government retook the region in 1970, he involved himself in political parties but soon resigned due to frustration over the corruption and elitism he witnessed. He lived in the United States for several years in the 1970s, and returned to the U.S. in 1990 after a car accident left him partially disabled.
Achebe's novels focus on the traditions of Igbo society, the effect of Christian influences, and the clash of Western and traditional African values during and after the colonial era. His style relies heavily on the Igbo oral tradition, and combines straightforward narration with representations of folk stories, proverbs, and oratory. He also published a number of short stories, children's books, and essay collections. From 2009 until his death, he served as a professor at Brown University in the United States.