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Contemporary Ghanaian Women Writers: Background information when reading His Only Wife

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His Only Wife

by Peace Adzo Medie

His Only Wife by Peace Adzo Medie X
His Only Wife by Peace Adzo Medie
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  • First Published:
    Sep 2020, 288 pages

    Aug 2021, 304 pages


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Book Reviewed by:
Callum McLaughlin
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About this Book

Contemporary Ghanaian Women Writers

This article relates to His Only Wife

Print Review

In her novel His Only Wife, Peace Adzo Medie captures the clash of tradition and modernity in present day Ghana. Medie belongs to a long line of talented women writers who show the country's rich culture and history to be bountiful sources of inspiration. Here are just a few of the most exciting Ghanaian women on the current literary scene.

Ama Ata Aidoo Ama Ata Aidoo was born in a Fanti village in 1942. Her father, the village chief, established the first school there and encouraged her to pursue education from a young age. Now a successful novelist, poet and playwright, she has served as Ghana's Minister for Education and founded the Mbaasem Foundation, an organization that actively supports African women writers. Her best-known works include Our Sister Killjoy and Changes: A Love Story. She was the subject of The Art of Ama Ata Aidoo, a documentary film directed by Yaba Badoe (see below).

Yaa Gyasi Yaa Gyasi was born in Mampong in 1989. Her family relocated to the United States when she was a child, and she was raised in Alabama. Her debut novel, Homegoing, was released to international acclaim and a host of major awards when she was just 26 years old. In 2019, Homegoing was named one of the BBC's "100 Novels That Shaped Our World." Transcendent Kingdom, released in the US in 2020, is her second novel.

Ayesha Harruna Attah Ayesha Harruna Attah was born in the Ghanaian capital of Accra in 1983. A literary magazine run by her parents and Toni Morrison's work served as early inspirations for her, and she currently has four novels to her name, including Harmattan Rain and The Deep Blue Between. Outside of her many writerly achievements, which include an MFA in creative writing from NYU and being named the 2014 Africa Centre Artists in Residency Award Laureate, Attah spent several years studying biochemistry.

Yaba Badoe Yaba Badoe is a Ghanaian-British filmmaker and author, born in Tamale, the capital city of Ghana's Northern Region, in 1955 and now based in London. Badoe's varied career has taken her across the globe, studying at Cambridge, working as a civil servant in Ghana, and teaching in both Spain and Jamaica. Her documentaries are critically lauded. Her fiction includes a novel for adults, True Murder, short works in anthologies and three books for young readers.

Elizabeth-Irene Baitie Elizabeth-Irene Baitie writes predominantly for children and young adults. Born in 1970, she had a passion for storytelling from an early age but veered towards science throughout her education. After studying in both Ghana and the UK, she opened her own medical laboratory, of which she is the director. She has still found time to write several books thus far, including A Saint in Brown Sandals and The Lion's Whisper, picking up several major awards along the way.

Lesley Lokko Lesley Lokko was born in 1964 to a Ghanaian father and a Scottish mother, and much of her childhood was spent in Accra. A fully trained architect, she has worked as a teacher in countries across the globe and even established the first dedicated postgraduate architectural school in Africa. This hasn't stopped her from enjoying a prolific writing career, with eight novels currently in publication, including Little White Lies and Sundowners.

Nana Oforiatta Ayim Nana Oforiatta Ayim was already a respected and multi-award-winning art historian and filmmaker when she published her debut novel The God Child with Bloomsbury in 2019 – adding yet another string to her bow. Drawing on her own experience of being educated in Germany and the UK as a child, the novel sets out to examine "how families, and nations, overcome the limitations of the past through the cycles of generations."

Portia Arthur Portia Arthur was born in Kumasi in 1990. She studied publishing at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, and later secured a job at the media house Pulse Ghana. While reporting a story, she was distressed to discover how high illiteracy was among children in her local community. This led her to set up "The Book Per Child Initiative," which provides young people with educational materials and creates reading groups. She also wrote her own children's book, Against the Odds, with the idea of using proceeds from book sales to assist young people with their tuition fees.


Ama Ata Aidoo in The Art of Ama Ata Aidoo by Yaba Badoe, Fadoa Films 2014

Yaa Gyasi: © Peter Hurley/Vilcek Foundation, from Penguin Random House

Ayesha Harruna Attah at Politics and Prose Wharf, Washington, D.C., by Slowking4 (CC BY-SA 2.5)

Yaba Badoe at the 2015 Zanzibar International Film Festival, by Rashde Fidigo (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Elizabeth-Irene Baitie (cropped), by Alispaz (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Lesley Lokko

Nana Oforiatta Ayim at the Chale Wote Street Art Festival in 2015, by ThompsonArmah (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Portia Arthur, by Sistaginna (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Filed under Books and Authors

This "beyond the book article" relates to His Only Wife. It originally ran in September 2020 and has been updated for the August 2021 paperback edition. Go to magazine.

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