The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born by Ayi Kwei Armah Online

The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born
Title : The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780435905408
Language : English
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 191

A railway freight clerk in Ghana attempts to hold out against the pressures that impel him toward corruption in both his family and his country. The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born is the novel that catapulted Ayi Kwei Armah into the limelight. The novel is generally a satirical attack on the Ghanaian society during Kwame Nkrumah’s regime and the period immediately after iA railway freight clerk in Ghana attempts to hold out against the pressures that impel him toward corruption in both his family and his country. The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born is the novel that catapulted Ayi Kwei Armah into the limelight. The novel is generally a satirical attack on the Ghanaian society during Kwame Nkrumah’s regime and the period immediately after independence in the 1960s. It is often claimed to rank with "Things Fall Apart" as one of the high points of post-colonial African Literature. A quote from Chapter 6: "And where is my solid ground these days? Let us say just that the cycle from birth to decay has been short. Short, brief. But otherwise not at all unusual. And even in the decline into the end there are things that remind the longing mind of old beginnings and hold out the promise of new ones, things even like your despair itself. I have heard this pain before, only then it was multiplied many, many times, but that may only be because at that time I was not so alone, so far apart. Maybe there are other lonely voices despairing now. I will not be entranced by the voice, even if it should swell as it did in the days of hope. I will not be entranced, since I have seen the destruction of the promises it made. But I shall not resist it either. I will be like a cork. It is so surprising, is it not, how even the worst happenings of the past acquire a sweetness in the memory. Old harsh distresses are now merely pictures and tastes which hurt no more, like itching scars which can only give pleasure now. Strange, because when I can think soberly about it all, with out pushing any later joys into the deepr past, I can remember that things were terrible then. When the war was over the soldiers came back to homes broken in their absence and they themselves brought murder in their hearts and gave it to those nearest them. I saw it, not very clearly, because I had no way of understanding it, but it frightened me. We had gone on marches of victory and I do not think there was anyone mean enough in spirit to ask whether we knew what we were celebrating. Whose victory? Ours? It did not matter. We marched, and only a dishonest fool will look back on his boyhood and say he knew even then that there was no meaning in any of it. It is so funny now, to remember that we all thought we were welcoming victory. Or perhaps there is nothing funny here at all, and it is only that victory itself happens to be the identical twin of defeat. "


The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born Reviews

  • Lisa

    This shit-encrusted tale of corruption and despair belongs to a tradition of post-colonial African literature that is unflinchingly critical of national politics. Hope was abating, disillusionment with Independence was beginning to take hold, and people were resigning themselves to the sad realities of poverty and inequality. In Ghana, the period in question is the 1960s. Ayi Kwei Armah has a particular fondness for scatological images that meshes well with his chosen message. I have no doubt th [...]

  • Cheryl

    Ask me about a writer who is unflinching in his emasculation of an African postcolonial way of life stunted by its mire in corruption and deceit, and I'll point to Ayi Armah.Why do we waste so much time with sorrow and pity for ourselves?…not so long ago we were helpless messes of soft flesh and unformed bone squeezing through bursting motherholes, trailing dung and exhausted blood. We could not ask then why it is was necessary for us also to grow. So why now should we be shaking our head and [...]

  • Zanna

    This book changed my perception of Africa as much as Things Fall Apart did. I was startled to realise, through these books, that I had never imagined every day life for people in Ghana, had only thought of Africa through negative news reports and famine relief appeals, and had never considered the possibility that Africans might live in cities, go to work in smart clothes and drive cars. Such is the power of ethnocentric socialisation.Armah's novel twisted my stomach in empathy with its protagon [...]

  • Lady Jaye

    I don't even know if I should/can rate this book. Up until the last 50 or so pages, it took a lot of effort to slog through. Ayi Kwei Armah set out to take a stand, make a political statement, and it is evident in every part of the book. A lot of similes, a lot of hyperbole, painful description, and LOTS of pontification. It is annoying, and it makes the book painful to read, but it also gets his point across very well. He wrote this book in 1968, 11 years after Ghana's independence, when the jo [...]

  • Jonathan

    A masterpiece. Truly an extraordinary work full of shit and sadness and sentences of great beauty. Proper review to come soon, but y'all need to get your greedy mitts on this ere book ASAP.

  • J. Trott

    So this book is by an American trained Marxist and it about the new Ghana with Nkrumah as president. It traces the sad move from idealistic and hopeful begins of a new state, to a corrupt and selfish mess. It is a book that I as a Westerner identified with, but my African students found it harsh and unrealistic. It has a heavy existensialist bent, one character, nameless, the man, refuses to participate in the corruption, and he is hated by everyone. Yet he goes on, trying to avoid the dirt, des [...]

  • Caroline

    Very intense and intensely written. Also beautifully written. I could only absorb about one chapter a day, both in content and language. Occasionally Armah gets carried away with an elaborate metaphor or description , but generally it works. The book works to convey the profound tedium and despair of ever getting ahead in an honest manner, or getting a government that isn't just a new corrupt version of the old corrupt government. There is a lot of imagery of shit in this regard, in a simultaneo [...]

  • Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship

    I did not know what to expect from this one. As it turns out, it’s quite a good literary book, although its tone is poorly represented by its cover; picture instead a dark road strewn with litter, under a cloudy sky, lined by buildings in various stages of collapse, and you’ll have a better idea of what to expect.This book is set in Ghana in the 1960s, and is about corruption. It follows the unnamed third-person narrator, a railroad clerk, who is one of the few who refuses to take bribes--wh [...]

  • Harry Rutherford

    The Beautyful Ones are Not Yet Born is a novel set during the last days of the Nkrumah government in Ghana. It’s about a man resisting corruption, quixotically in the view of most of those around him. The scathing portrayal of a corrupt society is all the sharper because of the contrast with the optimism that came with independence; it’s a novel, among other things, about the loss of hope. A kind of Animal Farm of post-colonialism.It’s a slim book, less than 200 pages, but it took me quite [...]

  • Sean McLachlan

    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 unna [...]

  • Travis Hamilton

    In 2008 I visited Ghana for my first time. While there, I asked a few people if I was to read one book about Ghana, what book should I read. This was the book that so many of my friends mentioned. I didn't read it for many years, until my second visit to Ghana in 2014. I started reading the book on the airplane and finished it in Accra, Ghana. The book was good in giving a greater insight into real Ghana, behind the walls and fences that is far from the tourist norms. Some of the book's content [...]

  • A.C.

    I picked this book up on a fluke in Jamaica after I finished reading a John Feinstein book. I'm glad that I did because this book is incredible. It's about the breaking of one man's soul in post-Nkrumah Ghana. It's simple, it's sparse, it's striking. The decay of the character and the people surrounding him are similar to that of Nausea by Sartre. But, whatever I say, it's not going to do this book justice. Stop reading this right now. Go get this book and read it from cover to cover in one sitt [...]

  • Monika

    This book requires patience to read. The start of the book gets on quite well, very good use of description. I got hooked from the beginning wondering who the mysterious man was and where was he heading to but immediately after my questions got answered the book quickly became boring, i feel like the writer got lost in description land, like i knew where he was going but he used too many detours to get there! Overall it's an okay read although it did take me forever to finish and bare in mind th [...]

  • Jey

    This is one of those novels where the scale of love and hate is at balance. The writing style is beautifully disgusting that it will render you nauseous. Armah's vivid description of whatever comes out of human orifices is but a technique to portray the corrupted and 'shit-caked' politics of Ghana. The beauty of the book lies in the fact that one can see his country's reflection within the lines of the book: It isn't as Afrocentric as it seems. The book is raw and literally dirty, but spectacula [...]

  • Demetri Broxton-Santiago

    This book literally changed my life! I read it when I was in Africa-- Ghana more specifically. I was really able to gain a perspective on life in West Africa, my own identity, and the political environment and fervor which creates acts of revolution. Everyone will find something amazing in this book.

  • Lisa Faye

    Wow, that was an amazing book that I plan to read again and again! Brilliantly written and, although short, not something to be consumed too quickly. Again, I have to say it, this man can really write!!

  • Obote O.clause

    I Was forced to read it because it was my literature copy. the first 10 pages were the boring ever. the progress was slow but at the end i liked the story.

  • CarlosBattaglini (English)

    (More information at carlosbattaglini)The Beautyful ones are not yet born by Ayi-Kweih-Armah is a novel that tells the story of a railway traffic control clerk in Ghana, who is disenchanted with life and the course of events in his country. The main character remains nameless, as Armah simply refers to him as ‘the man”. He feels very lonely and misunderstood and finds it increasingly difficult to live in his own country, on his own continent.He has to hold out against the pressures of his am [...]

  • Wim Schalenbourg

    A true classic of African post-colonial litterature, written long ago (1960s) but still relevant today: many citizens nowadays are equally desperate about personal opportunities to have a better life and about rampant corruption that erodes the cohesion of societies.Though it took me some chapters to get into the story, I started appreciating the novel and the main character (the man) more and more while progressing towards the end. Though the man is considered by society (and by his loved ones) [...]

  • George Rife

    Took me about 3 weeks to read even though it's short because it's not easy to read- partly because the descriptions of the life are so grim, and also because some of it is more discussion of life issues than narrative story. Very worth reading if you are interested in the life of common Africans though. The review I "liked" describes it better than I could. This was my 4th book written by a nonwhite African and in some ways the best, the most "serious literature".

  • Wes Pue

    Interesting portrayal of life in a newly independent Ghana up to the coup against Nkrumah (thought by some to have been CIA inspired). Provides reflections on class, family, race, and corruption in an early phase of independence from Britain. Deeply dark. Very powerful.

  • Anders Linde

    Armah levererar med denna roman ett makalöst sofistikerat porträtt av den inre smutsen, dvs. den eviga förljugenheten och hänsynslösa makthungern som allmänt sett är utmärkande kännetecken för vårt mänskliga släkte över hela världen och i alla tider, genom att projicera sin politiskt färgade samtidsberättelse (det postkoloniala Ghana under Nkrumah-åren på 1960-talet) på den fysiska verkligheten, där skitiga avträden och fettkladdig gatusmuts bäddar in hela romanen i en sla [...]

  • Yefon Isabelle

    One of those unforgettable books I ever read. The rot that permeates the society both physical and mental, the author uses staggering imagery to bring that to light. True genius.

  • Adam Dalva

    Bleak, interesting novel of corruption whose descriptions veer between the beautiful and the rancid. I don't think I've ever known a writer more preoccupied with human filth, and though Armah's choice is thematically on-the-nose (the story is of the lone man who resists corruption in mid-60's Ghana), the result is a unique mix of the visceral and cerebral. The opening is especially good, as is a lean Fellini-esque 1st person chapter at the halfway point. The book has a slight MFA vibe (the plot [...]

  • Shawn

    The stink of corruption. Ayi Kwei Armah uses shit as a metaphor cleverly and completely.I'm on an African lit binge and TBANYB is sure to be one of the most memorable I'll read. It's one of the major post-independence books, set in Ghana in the 1960s. Since I read it after Things Fall Apart, I couldn't resist but comparing the two, though about the only thing they have in common is an African setting and an omniscient narrator. I prefer Armah's prose to Achebe's. Part of this owes to the more mo [...]

  • Malvika Jolly

    there is a part that goes:"When the war was over the soldiers came back to homes broken in their absence and they themselves brought murder in their hearts and gave it to those nearest them".& this entire novel is equally, sublimely, stunning.I really do think that Ayi Kwei Armah is that meeting-place of postcolonialism & poetrythat is so so important & cruciallike every word that Gayatri Spivak ever uttersis poetic, w/ purposeI wish I had splurged & bought a print-copy of this b [...]

  • Thurston Hunger

    The last honest man in Ghana? Images of rot persist, even as the characters are forced by rebellion's upsurge into even further filth. This novel, while certainly part manifesto, still carries a storyteller's flair, and perhaps it is totally my misread, has more than a bit of humor in it. Or maybe that is just my inner pragmatist laughing at the shadow of my once proud inner idealist.I miss that guyAnyways, if this is "socialist fiction", its strength is in the latter aspect triumphing. I found [...]

  • Autumn

    i read this not long after i returned from a few months spent traveling in central america. although, i've never been to africa, there is a resonance here for anyone who has lived in a developing nation. it's the similarities you see in the housing structures in xian, china, and lucea, jamaica. or the smell of coal burning. or the exhaust from diesel-fueled buses. this book, albeit heavy and frustrating, is beautiful and somehow hopeful. i hope to travel to ghana one daya friend's father passed [...]

  • Thendo Ndou

    I found the first third of the book really slow and difficult to get into. In fact - I gave up two or seven times. But, fortunately, I gave it one more try at a time it was picking up.It is primarily a political book and then personal (as if the two can ever be seperated). It is set around the time of Nkrumah's Ghana and tells through the livings of one man that power brings corruption. It tells through his observations that as great as our liberators were in freeing us, power and its first daug [...]

  • Louise

    WOW! Such vivid descriptions of shit and filth that I won’t soon forget. And I will never touch a railing again! This man can write, and sometimes disturbingly so. The Ghana of the 60s described here is not a Ghana I would want to visit. I found the cynicism and pessimism rather depressing but Armah’s command of the English language is so beautiful I will read anything he has written.