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Buchi Emecheta

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Date of Birth:
Place of Birth:
Lagos, Nigeria

Buchi Emecheta, in full Florence Onyebuchi Emecheta, (born July 21, 1944, Lagos, Nigeria—died January 25, 2017, London, England), Igbo writer whose novels deal largely with the difficult and unequal role of women in both immigrant and African societies and explore the tension between tradition and modernity.

Emecheta married at age 16, and she emigrated with her husband from Nigeria to London in 1962. She began writing stories based on her life, including the problems she initially encountered in England. These works were first published in New Statesman magazine and were later collected in the novel In the Ditch (1972).

That work was followed by Second-Class Citizen (1974), and both were later included in the single volume Adah’s Story (1983). Those books introduce Emecheta’s three major themes: the quests for equal treatment, self-confidence, and dignity as a woman.

Somewhat different in style is Emecheta’s novel Gwendolen (1989; also published as The Family), which addresses the issues of immigrant life in Great Britain, as do Kehinde (1994) and The New Tribe (2000).

Most of Emecheta’s other novels—including The Bride Price (1976), The Slave Girl (1977), The Joys of Motherhood (1979), Destination Biafra (1982), and Double Yoke (1982)—are realistic works of fiction set in Nigeria.

Perhaps her strongest work, The Rape of Shavi (1983), is also the most difficult to categorize. Set in an imaginary idyllic African kingdom, it explores the dislocations that occur when a plane carrying Europeans seeking to escape an imminent nuclear disaster crashes.

Emecheta wrote an autobiography, Head Above Water (1986), and several works of children’s and juvenile fiction. She was made an Officer of the British Empire (OBE) in 2005.


In the Ditch (1972)

Second Class Citizen (1974)

The Bride Price (1976)

The Slave Girl (1977); winner of 1978 Jock Campbell Award

The Joys of Motherhood (1979)

The Moonlight Bride (1981)

Our Own Freedom (with photographs by Maggie Murray; 1981)

Destination Biafra (1982)

Naira Power (1982)

Adah's Story [In the Ditch/Second-Class Citizen] (London: Allison & Busby, 1983).

The Rape of Shavi (1983)

Double Yoke (1982)

A Kind of Marriage (London: Macmillan, 1986); Pacesetter Novels series.

Gwendolen (1989). Published in the US as The Family

Kehinde (1994)

The New Tribe (2000)

Children’s/Young adults' books

Titch the Cat (illustrated by Thomas Joseph; 1979)

Nowhere to Play (illustrated by Peter Archer; 1980)

The Wrestling Match (1981)


Juju Landlord (episode of Crown Court), Granada Television, 1975.

A Kind of Marriage, BBC television, 1976.

Family Bargain, BBC Television, 1987.


The Black Scholar, November–December 1985, p. 51.

"Feminism with a Small 'f'!" in Kirsten H. Petersen (ed.), Criticism and Ideology: Second African Writers Conference, Stockholm 1988, Uppsala: Scandinanvian Institute of African Studies, 1988, pp. 173–181.

Essence magazine, August 1990, p. 50.

New York Times Book Review, 29 April 1990.

Publishers Weekly, 16 February 1990, p. 73; reprinted 7 February 1994, p. 84.

World Literature Today, Autumn 1994, p. 867.