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Review: Dilemma of a Ghost and Anowa by Ama Ata Aidoo

November 19, 2011

Dilemma of a Ghost and Anowa coverTitle: Dilemma of a Ghost and Anowa
Author: Aidoo, Ama Ata
Length: 124 pages
Genre: Fiction, General, Drama
Publisher / Year: Longman African Writers / 1965
Source: Purchased from Amazon.
Rating: 5/5
Why I Read It: I picked this up after reading Changes by the author last year.
Date Read: 18/11/11

This book is a collection of two plays written by Aidoo. Both of the plays were fantastic, each in their own way. As with the other plays I’ve read this year, I do wish I had the opportunity to see these live! It isn’t quite as good, I think, reading plays. That being said, these were both fantastic reads and I’m glad I got to do that at least even if I can’t see them being performed!

Dilemma of a Ghost tells the story of Ato and Eulalie. The two met at university in the United States and were married. Eulalie, an African-American woman, then moves back to Ghana with Ato. The play focuses mainly on the cultural differences and the struggles that Eulalie faces in fitting in.

Ato’s family displays the prejudice of thinking African-Americans inferior as they are descendants of slaves. Eulalie considers many of his family’s customs backwards and is disdainful of many of them. The interplay between the two groups shows both the prejudices that exist between Africans and African-Americans as well as the difficulties in bridging the gap between the groups if the middle link isn’t willing to make an effort.

Anowa tells the story of a young woman who grows up very spirited and willing to speak her mind. She goes against the advice of her parents and community in choosing her own husband, and then has to deal with the consequences. In this story we see more of the benefits of culture and customs and the reasons behind them.

One thing I found really interesting in this play was the way the old man and old woman play their roles. The woman is an advocate of old gender roles while the man more willing to concede and be flexible on them. I think this was very telling both in the way people grow accustomed to the way things are and the ways in which different people see things differently.

Both plays were well written and easy to follow, I could see how they would play out while reading which is always a benefit. The plays both had so much depth to them and will keep me thinking on various topics and points for time to come. To date I’ve read a novel, a collection of short stories edited by, and these two plays by Aidoo. All of them were fantastic. I am always impressed by authors who can master such a wide range of forms, and Aidoo does it wonderfully. Definitely an author I recommend.

15 Comments leave one →
  1. ejinma permalink
    November 19, 2011 8:59 am

    Dear Amy, your appreciation of African Love Stories is absolutely wonderful. Like the finest of wines: smooth, but uncompromising… heady! Many, many thanks.

    • November 28, 2011 10:26 am

      I love that comparison ejinma, so true. And thank you for the visit and comment.

  2. November 19, 2011 11:09 am

    I haven’t read many plays, mostly because the form is hard for me to get used to, but I think this book sounds really intriguing and the plays in it are very different than what I have been accustomed to. I am really glad that you liked them, and am envious of your literary curiosity when it comes to reading about the African culture. Great review today. It seems like this was a really interesting read for you!

    • November 28, 2011 10:27 am

      The plays are really great yes, so worth a try if you do want to explore the format.

  3. November 20, 2011 12:51 am

    I’m so very picky with plays, but these sound pretty good.

  4. November 20, 2011 8:56 pm

    Tow of Ghana’s classic plays. I love them both but Anowa edges out Dilemma. I think I like the themes in Anowa more and I certainly appreciate the slavery angle of the story. Thanks for your review.

    • November 28, 2011 10:29 am

      I am not sure which I prefer Kinna, I keep going back and forth to be honest. I think I may like Dilemma more overall, just because of the interracial relationship and cultural difficulties aspect.

  5. November 26, 2011 5:04 am

    Ohh! it’s unquestionable to have enjoyed these plays. Aidoo, is a fantastic writer.

  6. Jepchumba Sally permalink
    August 30, 2012 1:07 pm

    I appreciate your review.

  7. Dlamini Phuthumile permalink
    October 24, 2012 7:45 am

    both plays are fantastic, but for me Dilemma stands out. i like the way it shows the way diaspora retunees were viewed by other africans, the way the educated African views Africa after they have gained education and the way the educated Africans are caught in the middle of two cultures. Ama has done a great job


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