Born August 14, 1944, Buchi Emecheta is a Nigerian novelist who has published over 20 books, including Second-Class Citizen (1974), The Bride Price (1976), The Slave Girl (1977) and The Joys of Motherhood (1979). Her books mainly focus on women issues, particularly the theme of gender bias in both immigrant and African societies. Other themes include racial prejudice and the experience of immigration.
Many of her books draw from her own experience. The daughter of Igbo parents, Buchi Emecheta was initially denied the opportunity of receiving education, even while her younger brother attended school. She later persuaded her parents to let her go to school, and went on to excel.
Married at a young age, Emecheta moved to England in 1962 to join her husband who was attending university in London. It was in England that Echemeta took up writing in her spare time. Her first book, In the Ditch was published in 1972 followed by Second-Class Citizen in 1974. Both books were semi-autobiographical, drawing partly from her own childhood and unhappy first marriage. In Second-Class Citizen, for instance, the main character, Adah – very much like Emecheta herself – had fewer choices than boys and was considered less important in traditional Ibo culture.
However, despite the evident semi-biographical nature of her early work, Emecheta insists that she didn’t start out intending to write about her life:
“The first book I wrote was The Bride Price which was a romantic book, but my husband burnt the book when he saw it. I was the typical African woman, I’d done this privately, I wanted him to look at it, approve it and he said he wouldn’t read it. And later he burnt the book and I think by that time this urge to write had become more important to me than he realized, and that was the day I said I’m going to leave this marriage and he said “what for, that stupid book” and I said “I just feel you just burnt my child.”
Emecheta, who holds a B.Sc (Honours) and a PhD from the University of London, has enjoyed immense success both as a writer and scholar. She has lectured at several universities in the US, including Yale University, Rutgers University, the University of California, Los Angeles and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. From 1980 to 1981, she was a senior resident fellow and visiting professor of English at the University of Calabar in Nigeria.
In 1979, her book, The Slave Girl received the New Statesman Jock Campbell Award. In 1983, she was nominated as one of Granta’s “Best of the Young British Novelists”.
Sources: Wikipedia.org, contemporarywriters.com, BBC, emeagwali.com
Selected Books by Buchi Emecheta
- In the Ditch (1972)
- Second Class Citizen (1974)
- The Bride Price (1976)
- The Slave Girl (1977)
- The Joys of Motherhood (1979)
- The Moonlight Bride (1980)
- Destination Biafra (1982)
- Double Yoke (2002)
- Naira Power (1982)
- The Rape of Shavi (1983)
- Head Above Water – An Autobiography (1986)
- Gwendolen /The Family (1989)
- Kehinde (1994)
- The New Tribe (2000)
- Titch the Cat (1979)
- Nowhere to Play (1980)
- The Wrestling Match (1980)