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Second Class Citizen

de Buchi Emecheta

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296568,294 (3.71)4
Adah's desire to write is pitted against the forces of an egotistical and unfeeling husband and a largely indifferent white society.

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Exibindo 5 de 5
The experiences of Nigerian families moving to London can be sadly compared to worst of Dickens. The author seems to have based her novel on her own terrible experiences with a racist city and a completely unsympathetic and abusive husband. As a library lover, it is reassuring to see that Adah's employment in London libraries is one of the few bright spots in her life. The impact of lack of birth control is also very vivid, as Adah has four children before age 20 and her brutal husband refuses to provide support. When she completes a novel during her maternity leave, he burns it. He beats her to the point that she must have the police and courts intervene.

Just as disturbing is the treatment Adah receives from fellow Ibo immigrants. They think she's "getting above herself" by having a "white person's job" and do everything they can to cut her down.

The writing is strong, but some incidents that should have been described in depth are skimmed over. A very powerful book, and I will read her others as well. ( )
  froxgirl | Sep 2, 2016 |
I had to bear with the first couple of chapters as they read a bit like a summary, but once she gets to chapter three things really kick into gear.

This book really made me think about my cultural assumptions and question them. The big theme here is the relationship between citizen and state. To an extent I agree with her in finding the level of the UK's involvement in private life to be bizarre. I know people who have social workers involved in the care of their children and they never question whether or not this is healthy. On the other hand, I never question that the NHS is a good thing so found the bit where she wants to pay more for her health care very thought provoking. Whether or not you agree with her really isn't important though; it's the outsider's view and your questioning that's important. There's a great passage where she compares Nigerian and English churches:

“London, having thus killed Adah's congregational God, created instead a personal God who looked large and really alive”

and you realise that she's also talking about the citizen and the state. In Nigeria you commonly have extended families who work together congregationally to resolve problems. In Britain it's relatively common not to have functioning extended families and so the state acts to replace that function where poverty causes it to be become a problem.

Clever stuff, and all told with a wry, dark humour.

In the Ditch was published first, but chronologically takes place after Citizen. I read them in publication order and it really wasn't a problem, though Ditch does have a spoiler of Citizen's climax. ( )
  Lukerik | Nov 7, 2015 |
This was fascinating. I hesitate to say it was an enjoyable read, but only because of the frequently grim subject manner. Adah is extremely engaging and her story is written in a way that kept me constantly interested and wanting to read on. The only problem for me was that the ending went completely over my head. I just don't understand what happened there, but I know how damn hard it is to end a story/book satisfactorily so am happy to be forgiving about that (in any case, the failure to understand could well be completely my fault.) ( )
1 vote Vivl | Apr 5, 2013 |
This classic novel blends all the social economic challenges that people faced during the post-colonial rule. The racial segregation cannot be over emphasized. Adah had a hope that when she travels to England life would just be smooth.... ( )
  makamo | Oct 31, 2012 |
  raslone | Jul 29, 2007 |
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Adah's desire to write is pitted against the forces of an egotistical and unfeeling husband and a largely indifferent white society.

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Média: (3.71)
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