The Beautyful Ones are Not Yet Born by Ayi Kwei Armah
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
All the Beautyful Ones are Not Yet Born, by Ayi Kwei Armah, is an excellent read and the second-best book I read all year, after Johnny Got His Gun by Dalton Trumbo.
Armah wrote this novel in 1968, only eleven years after Ghana got its independence, and he is often considered to be from the "second generation" of African writers. The first generation wrote around the time of independence and was filled with optimism. Things went bad quickly, though, as Armah's book shows.
The story follows an unnamed man who works in a railway office. He refuses to take bribes or be in any way involved in the corruption that's enriching his friends and destroying his nation. He knows his stance is pointless, because the corruption will continue with or without him, but he stands on his principles. It's a relentlessly pessimistic book, although the writing is beautiful and one corrupt official gets a hilarious comeuppance near the end. I highly recommend it, but not if you're in a good mood.
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