Born in Takoradi, Ghana, in 1939, Armah is widely considered one of the most important African writers to have emerged in the post-colonial period.
Educated at Harvard, Armah has worked as a translator and scriptwriter, in addition to his activities as a novelist.
His first book, The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born (1968), has achieved something approaching canonical status in Anglophone African literature.
With strong echoes of the French existential tradition associated with Sartre and Camus, the novel is often presented as an exemplar of the literature of disillusionment.
Ayi Kwei Armah
It centres on a character trying to make sense of his life, as well as that of the nation, following what can be seen as the betrayal of Ghana’s independence dreams.
A critique of a system overrun by nepotism and corruption, the novel still packs a punch almost 50 years on.
While Armah’s vision seems dominated by the grim and grimy, glimmers of hope for an alternative future, for both the protagonist and the nation, do exist.
As such, arguably the most telling part of the title is “not yet”.
Armah followed The Beautyful Ones with Fragments (1970), Why Are We So Blest? (1972), Two Thousand Seasons (1973), The Healers (1978), Osiris Rising (1995) and The Eloquence of the Scribes (2006).
In so doing, he has secured his position as one of the most prominent and distinctive African writers.
Source: News 24