The Beautiful Ones Are Not Yet Born

Book: The Beautiful Ones Are Not Yet Born

Author: Ayi Kwei Armah

Around the World: Ghana


The man, unnamed, lives in a life that has stagnated, in a country that is stagnant. Every day is monotonous- catch the bus, work all day in a stifling office, feel oppressed by the heat, be ridiculed by his wife for his lack of ambition, avoid touching the filth that surrounds him…

The man sees his country has failed in its ambitious revolution- the first black president did not bring freedom and equality- it just created room for black people to be the corrupt oppressors rather than the whites. He could also gain some power and wealth, but he doesn’t believe in taking bribes or acting unethically. And for this his wife hates him, and other people he comes in contact with at work resent him.

In the first half of the book, we see the repetitive sameness of his life, the lack of hope for better things, and the disgust at a lot of the uncleanliness makes up his surrounds- there is a banister which is slimy and rotten from year of use, the smell of people, and a long time is spent describing the toilet facilities, which to say the least sound horrible (think faeces on all surfaces of the room).

In the second half, we see how suddenly things can change when the next revolution occurs- suddenly a lot of action is required in order for his friends to survive. Suddenly it looks like he was smart for not sucking up to people in power, as now they are being hunted down. But soon things will settle again, and will anything have changed?

The writing style is a bit disjointed- with one observation running into a reflection on the past, running into a moral thought, and then back again. Because of this it actually took me a few goes to get through the book, despite it being less than 200 pages.


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