Tuesday, April 16, 2013

And you thought finals were painful

Read the story behind Chinua Achebe's novel, Things Fall Apart.
It’s important to remember that that manuscript, which was handwritten, was “the only manuscript in the entire world,” ... Once it was ready, he went to a post office in Lagos, where he was living, and mailed it to a typing agency in London that he had seen advertised in the Spectator, because he “had learned that if you really want to make a good impression, you should have your manuscript well typed.” The agency wrote back saying they had received the manuscript, and that it would cost 32 pounds for two typed copies. Achebe sent the money, and waited. And waited. 
“Weeks passed, and months,” Achebe said. He began to lose weight, he was so anxious. Fortunately, he mentioned what was going on to his boss at the NBS, the Nigerian radio service where he worked. Her name was Angela Beattie, and she was, Achebe said, a “no-nonsense woman.” She was also from England, and was headed back there shortly on leave. She agreed to stop by the typing agency. When she showed up there, she demanded to know what was going on. “And when they saw a real person come out of the vague mess of the British colonies,” Achebe said, “they knew it was no longer a joke.” 
Beattie demanded that they mail a typed copy to Achebe “in the next week,” which they did. (He never did receive the second copy he paid for.) He sent it on to the British publisher Phelps had recommended, and the publisher sought the advice of Donald Macrae, a professor in London who had just returned from a trip to west Africa. Macrae, Achebe told the Paris Review, wrote what the publisher “said was the shortest report they ever had on any novel—seven words: ‘The best first novel since the war.’ ”  From Slate, By David Haglund

No comments :

Post a Comment

Please let us know your thoughts.