‘Criticism Helps Us Grow.’ Elizabeth Ben-Iheanacho’s First Draft

Critic and author of ‘Achebe’s Women’, Elizabeth Ben-Iheanacho, wishes more authors appreciated the productive purpose of criticism: ‘Criticism helps us grow. It opens up new dimensions and hidden meanings that we may not have been aware of in the course of writing.’

First Draft is our interview column, featuring authors and other prominent figures on books, reading, and writing.

Our questions are italicized.

Editor’s note: This first draft is available in print in our latest issue on The Life and Legacy of Buchi Emecheta. Buy the issue here.

What books or kinds of books by women did you read growing up?

Growing up, I read voraciously without paying particular attention to the genders of authors—my gender consciousness came later in life. However, Jane Austen was a staple author as was Enid Blyton. As a child, I read every possible thing that was to be found in my father’s very extensive library ranging from the African Writers Series to paranormal series such as Maria Corelli’s Vendetta. I read thrillers from James Hadley Chase, Nick Carter, Sidney Sheldon and every teenager’s romantic genre by Mills and Boons, Barbara Cartland and the queen of them all, Denise Robins. My dad invested heavily in my reading passion, which he indulged outrageously by buying me books and more books, while my mom indulged my ‘lazy’ escape from household chores...

This essay features in our latest print issue, ‘The Triumph of Buchi Emecheta’ and is only available to paying subscribers. To subscribe, buy a subscription plan here from $1.99 / month (students) and $5.99 / month (non-students). Already a subscriber? log in.