A vivid coming-of-age tale about a young man trying to make his way as a journalist and band leader in a big Nigerian city.
When Chinua Achebe became the editor of the legendary Heinemann African Writers Series, one of the first books he chose was a collection of stories by Cyprian Ekwensi. People of the City, Ekwensi’s early masterpiece, is the tale of Amusa Sango, a young man who travels from the country to a great and crazy city that is not named but might well be taken for Lagos, where he means to make a career as a crime reporter for the never less than sensational West African Sensation while leading a dance band whose calypsos and konkomas “delight the heart of city women.” Amusa is a man on the make, looking for stories, success, sex, maybe even love, and he finds a lot of what he’s looking for, though whether he can hold on to what he has and get what he wants is another story altogether. Ekwensi’s delicious novel has the swagger, bravado, and elation of the great bands of West Africa.
People of the City by Cyprian Ekwensi
NYRB Classics 2020