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by Helon Habila

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ISBN:
0241141869
Author:
Helon Habila
Category:
Contemporary
Language:
English
Publisher:
Hamish Hamilton Ltd (October 31, 2002)
Pages:
240 pages
EPUB book:
1639 kb
FB2 book:
1746 kb
DJVU:
1830 kb
Other formats
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Rating:
4.7
Votes:
879


This paper examines Helon Habila's Waiting for an Angel in the context of Niyi Osundare's thesis of the Writer as righter, an assertion of the role of the African writer in society.

This paper examines Helon Habila's Waiting for an Angel in the context of Niyi Osundare's thesis of the Writer as righter, an assertion of the role of the African writer in society. The paper discusses the qualities of Habila’s novel, and how they conform largely to what Osundare believes African writers must demonstrate before they could be considered as ‘righters’. For this purpose, therefore, I have deliberately adopted the Marxist Literary Criticism particularly as it aligns with the revolutionary temper Osundare proposes.

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Helon Habila is the author of Oil on Water, Measuring Time, Waiting for an Angel, andThe Chibok Girls. He is professor of creative writing at George Mason University and lives in Virginia with his wife and three children. Библиографические данные. Waiting For an Angel.

Waiting for an Angel. 2002) A novel by Helon Habila. The generation-defining successor to Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart. Lomba is a young journalist living under military rule in Lagos, Nigeria, the most dangerous city in the world. His mind is full of soul music and girls and the lyric novel he is writing. But his roommate is brutally attacked by soldiers; his first love is forced to marry a wealthy general; and his neighbors on Poverty Street are planning a demonstration that is bound to incite riot and arrests. Lomba can no longer bury his head in the sand.

Habila implies that the angel of death from his novel escapes the bounds of fiction and into the historical bedroom of. .2 As Habila notes in his afterward to Waiting for an Angel, Every day came with new limitations, new prison.

Habila implies that the angel of death from his novel escapes the bounds of fiction and into the historical bedroom of Abacha-a powerful illustration of the power inherent in the social imagination. 5 Summary of the Novel The seven chapter novel is a chronologically fractured, multi-vocal narrative little changed from Habila’s original collection of short stories except for the addition of the chapter Alice, an Afterward, and the excision of the short story The Iron Gate. Reading Waiting for an Angel, I experienced the same excitement that I experienced when, way back in 1980, I came on the first book, Flowers and Shadows, of another Nigerian, Ben Okri

Waiting for an Angel. Title: Waiting for an Angel. Author: Helon Habila. Reading Waiting for an Angel, I experienced the same excitement that I experienced when, way back in 1980, I came on the first book, Flowers and Shadows, of another Nigerian, Ben Okri. Habila's youthful technique now, like Okri's then, can sometimes be clumsy. But, when I finished his novel, my reaction was exactly the same as when I finished Okri's: 'What radiant promise!'" - Francis King, The Spectator.

Helon Habila's vivid, exciting, and heart-wrenching debut opens a window onto a world in some ways familiar-with its sensuously depicted streets, student life, and vibrant local characters-yet ruled by one of the world's most corrupt and oppressive regimes, a scandal that ultimately drives Lomba to take a risk in the name of something greater than himself.

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The angel for whom Lomba thereafter passively waits is the Angel of Death-as we’re reminded by far too many sententious generalizations about freedom stifled and the stymied, sense-dulling miasma of existence. Comparisons of Habila to Nigeria’s great novelist Chinua Achebe are, to put it mildly, premature.

Book by Helon Habila
  • Maridor
"It was a terrible time to be alive," writes Helon Habila in his aftermath.

And indeed, the first story in this book of seven interconnected stories hits the reader with a wallop. Lomba - a writer - is one of many political prisoners, whose life has been upended and whose humanity is on the way to being extinguished by a corrupt system. But who is Lomba, really, and what brought him to the prison?

The answer isn't revealed until the last story. In the interim, we learn much about him through narratives: the love of his life married a benefactor to pay for her dying mother's care, his close friend lost his entire family and went mad with grief as the army moved in on student protests. In the longest of the stories, Poverty Street, Lomba lives among others who are struggling to get by: a young boy who was exiled to his aunt's because of a misdemeanor and his teacher Joshua who loves a former pupil - Hagar - who was forced to turn to prostitution.

It's a bleak picture of the "despair, the frenzy, the stubborn hope, but above all the airless prison-like atmosphere" of Nigeria, a land gone mad during the Babangida and Abacha years and most readers - me among them - will likely not know the background history and repressive military regimes that rocked Nigeria to its core.

But this book is not about historicity; Habila states, "My concern was for the story, that above everything else." In this, the author succeeds brilliantly. When Lomba visits a slave museum at Badagry, his mentor tells him that two slaves who spoke the same language were never kept together. He ends the tale by saying,"...every oppressor knows wherever one word is joined to another to form a sentence, there'll be revolt." At another point, he considers, "...there is so much more we can't understand because we are only characters in a story and our horizon is so narrow and so dark."

It will be words, Habila suggests, that offer the power to set us free, whether it's within a prison or in the chaos of a brutal military coup. The eponymous "angel" that Lomba awaits is the angel of death but Habila celebrates not death but life: hope, the possibility of love, the beauty of connections, the power of journalism and other writing. In the end, the sentence of imprisonment pales next to the sentence that can offer liberty. Now - as of in times of slavery - words can unlock the locks and chains.
  • Silverbrew
I bought this product for my sis who is in college, so I cant speak for the content; however, the condition of the book was as described and the service was excellent.
  • Atineda
With these words, Lomba, a young aspiring novelist and poet, is hired as a journalist for a local journal's arts page. The place is Lagos, the time the latter part of the nineteen nineties when Nigeria is controlled, yet again, by a brutal military regime. "It was a terrible time to be alive", explains Helon Habila in his book's Afterword, "especially when you were young, talented and ambitious - and patriotic." The author describes his work as a kind of historical novel, intended to "capture the mood of those years, [...] the despair, the frenzy, the stubborn hope, but above all the airless prison-like atmosphere that characterized them." Habila tells his story episodically, in a series of linked stories focusing on well-drawn and believable characters and their daily lives. He writes with great compassion and empathy, bringing to the fore not only the place and atmopshere but also emphasizing the individuals' capacity for hope and courage, friendship and love, beauty and poetry, despite the disturbing circumstances they have to cope with. First published in 2000 in Nigeria as a story collection, one of the stories, "Love Poems", won Habila the 2001 Caine Prize for African Writing. The collection was published in its revised format as "Waiting for an Angel" in 2002. Without doubt did the Caine Prize and this debut novel launch Habila's international writing career. In his two more recent novels, Measuring Time and Oil on Water, he has built on his strengths both as an exquisite story teller with great poetic expressiveness, and astute observer of people and events in his home country. Not surprisingly, ten years after publication this novel has lost nothing of its literary power, emotional strength and thematic relevance.

In "Lomba", the opening story, based on the earlier "Love Poems", we meet the young writer and journalist while he suffers in appalling conditions through his second year in prison. It is a despicable and hopeless place, where mistreatment and torture are the rule, where release, if at all, is arbitrary and often not more than a distant hope. With daydreaming and writing a diary on any scrap of paper and pencil he can find Lomba struggles to keep sane. Then one day one of his poems falls into the hands of the Superintendent... From then on, time moves backwards, more or less, and while Lomba's story weaves through the whole novel, we meet various individuals - friends, lovers, neighbours and others - that cross Lonba's path during the preceding years. The events that landed Lomba in prison will come into view as the stories unfold.

Bringing different perspectives and authentic voices to the fore, Habila in fact creates a colourful collage of persuasive human interest stories that take us close up and personal into the grim realities in Nigeria under military rule: extreme poverty of is pervasive among the civil population, censorship an every day and arbitrary arrests a common occurrence for educated people. Rather than addressing these issues with broad strokes, the author focuses his attention on one neighbourhood in Lagos: Morgan Street and its surroundings. It is a poor area with tenement buildings without any of the basic amenities. Madame Godwill's restaurant, a sort of greasy spoon, attracts and feeds the locals, students, ex-veterans, abandoned women and other marginalized people. They share their stories; they cry together, laugh together and are alive as a community. Eventually they will rename the street into "Poverty Street". Apart from Lomba himself, several characters stand out for me: Kela, the observant fifteen-year old nephew of Madame Godwill, sent to Lagos to get his life back on track and his teacher, Joshua who, despite his young age speaks with great wisdom. They both may well reflect some of the character traits and experiences of a young Helon Habila. [Friederike Knabe]