Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Girls at War and Other Stories” as Want to Read:
Girls at War and Other Stories
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Girls at War and Other Stories

3.70  ·  Rating details ·  1,029 ratings  ·  98 reviews
Girls at War and Other Stories reveals the essence of life in Nigeria and traces twenty years in the literary career of one of this century's most acclaimed writers. In this collection of stories, Chinua Achebe takes us inside the heart and soul of a people whose pride and ideals must compete with the simple struggle to survive. Hailed by critics everywhere, Chinua Achebe' ...more
Paperback, 121 pages
Published 1991 by Anchor (first published 1972)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Girls at War and Other Stories, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Chris Well, it's a bunch of short stories, so I guess it's about a lot of things :P If it's anything like Achebe's other works, it's probably about…moreWell, it's a bunch of short stories, so I guess it's about a lot of things :P If it's anything like Achebe's other works, it's probably about colonization and such.(less)
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
3.70  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,029 ratings  ·  98 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Aug 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Girls are always at war in a society dominated by hostile patriarchy.

Bizarrely, actual war offers the kind of chaotic breakdown of society that gives them a moment of freedom to try out different roles for themselves before male power grabs them by the neck again and forces them back into a prisoner camp, both physically and mentally.

Chinua Achebe's short stories show various situations in which young girls and women try to figure out how to navigate in a community that has no intention of lett
Paquita Maria Sanchez
What do you do when you are in the middle of several lengthy novels, and have library books which you haven't even started yet which are due in a few short days? Why, you check out another book, a short story collection by an author whose 'opus' is a novel you read over a decade ago for your World Civilizations course, and which you remember slightly less than the conversations you and your friend had about the guy in Buddy Holly glasses two rows behind who your friend wanted to make out with, a ...more
Jan 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If I have ever forgotten why Chinua Achebe is the blueprint for the quintessential African writer, then these stories have reminded me. Who else can write a story about The Madman and make it so layered with both cultural and emotional meaning? Who else can write a story so filled with a quintessential blandness that you realise that sugar might be a big deal? Who else can tell a story about a society degrading in a time of war...and highlight the stupendous double standard of the men running it ...more
Jan 26, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classic
War is a theme that I have a hard time getting to read and like in any kind of literature. Be it classic, sci-fi, fantasy, historical fiction, non-fiction, I always have to force myself to read passages that tell of fighting, bombing, destroying and killing. Most of the time I skim to spare myself from the gore and horror. Once in a while, though, a story or book about war comes up in my reading that draws me in regardless of the pain and suffering it tells. This book is one of the very few. I a ...more
Susan Abulhawa
Feb 13, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It was a sad day when Chinua Achebe passed away. This is another fruit of his literary brilliance. It's a collection of short stories set in Nigeria Igbo culture. The stories run through the Biafran War. Before during and after. Some are better than others. The narrative is economical and muscular - concise sentences that hold more words than are written. The characters are colorful and different, giving a deeper looking into their lives than one would expect from stories only a few pages long. ...more
Josephus FromPlacitas
This collection of stories from three different decades feels a bit strange, just in the different personalities of the stories from different times. The stories from the 1950s and 60s often have a quiet gentility, an observational quality that was almost a little distancing for me. "The Madman" is a social portrait of reversal of roles on market day between a wandering lunatic and a young man trying to rise up the social ladder; "Marriage Is A Private Affair" tells a tale of family tension arou ...more
Mar 22, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: anthology, 2013, literary
Chinua Achebe died today, and being a great believer in the maxim that dead authors live on in their books, I thought I would do my bit by reading something he wrote.

When I was in high school, I read Things Fall Apart and strongly disliked it. Now, as a (semi) adult, I enjoyed Girls At War much more than Things Fall Apart. I don't know if it was my age, my more advanced studies in history, or simply the fact that I did not have to analyze every word for meaning that got me, but I really enjoyed
Amalia Lerma
May 03, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The fiction story “Death Men’s Path” written by China Achebe made me feel like I was in China or Beijing. The outcome of the story I could relate it to their beliefs. The main idea is how strongly tradition is and how power can go to your head. Achebe studied in London University and returned to Nigeria to finish his Bachelor’s which I found very interesting. He also suffered from several car accidents which one led him to become paralyzed from the waist down. In 2007 he was awarded the second ...more
Tumelo Moleleki
May 19, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Clearly the ebook was not 128 pages. Only 68 or there about. I loved the book but I hated the pigensglish because I couldn't even infer what was being said from the narration. But these are great stories. Some of them are too short and others ended just as the story seemed to be picking up. The shelling remark had me wondering what the woman meant and it took more reading for me to get the meaning. Such an expression.

I will never forget the story of Akueke. She sure had spunk!
Mar 13, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
2nd Reading January 7, 2015
Sure, we've all read Things Fall Apart, probably years ago, but Chinua Achebe wrote a lot of stuff! This book was a totally random walking-through-the-library-and-its-spine-jumped-out-at-me-but-not-literally kind of decision. One of my few reads this summer that's not part of some project or quest. And I greatly enjoyed it! A story or two a day for a few days. I don't know a ton more about Nigeria than anyone else who is mostly familiar through Achebe and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and bad news in ...more
Mar 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
Before I get to ranting, a disclaimer: Quite a few of these stories are really funny and warm, and I found myself chuckling.

"My belief is that a child who will be somebody will be somebody whether he goes to school or not." Spoken by a callous, and of course wealthy, man to his impoverished teenaged nanny. The government offers free education, then takes it away and the newspapers gloat. A girl is sent to work by her mother who once gave up on good marriage prospects for a manual laborer, who h
Jun 03, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Achebe's stories, all written before 1972, are early work, and though a few are didactic, most are vivid and offer great insight in the daily life of African natives, shedding light on the influences of colonization and the Biafran War in the 60s. Of particular interest is "The Madman."
Ana ☾
Jul 02, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018, read-in-english
I mean... it was okay, I guess? There wasn't anything to hate or dislike, but there wasn't anything to love or like either. So... \_(ツ)_/ ...more
May 11, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Chinua Achebe includes severalshort stories in this book that displays the heart and soul of life in Nigeria. Each of the stories hold a different aspect and quality to them. He has a flair of creating personalities different from the other characters he creates. When you begin each story it feels as if you are beginning a different novel. Each story focuses on something different for example A Marriage is a Private Affair forcuses on family tension around a sort of mixed marriage, while in "Aku ...more
Jan 09, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'd never had a chance to see Achebe's short work before and I liked it. Like his longer work, he gives a great sense of the humanity of these people trying to survive in a world that is sometimes humorous though often heartrending, unfeeling, and hostile. It may not have the same scope as Achebe's longer work, completely obviously since these are short stories, but there's some good stuff in here and it shines all the same.
Skylar Burris
These stories were of varying quality. Not all held my attention, but the ones that did made quite an impact, particularly the story of a young girl who would (quite literally) kill to go to school. The title story, “Girls at War,” was also one of the more powerful tales in the collection.
Jan 17, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Some stories are a bit weaker than others, but overall this is a great collection of stories from Nigeria and Biafra that reflect life lessons and challenges that are similar to those faced everywhere, albeit in slightly different settings.
Except for two or three stories I didn't like it so much.
Jun 06, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: africa
While some of these stories possessed a charming quality, most of them seemed to end abruptly and seemed unfinished. Short stories weren't Achebe's forte, and he says as much in the introduction to this edition. I'm reading through all his work this year, and I'd put this super short collection on the low end of the scale of his works that you "must read"
Apr 16, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I either didn’t really care for the short story or I was in complete awe with how beautiful and breathtaking it was. Maybe I need to reread it because I read this book during really stressful time hehe.
Aug 27, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars. I enjoyed it a lot but wasn't blown away. Will likely read more in the future.
Elle Reads
Nov 08, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories
Obi’s perspective is that of change and progressiveness, which in respect to the circumstances at play, is not innately wrong. The priest’s perspective is that of conservatism and tradition, which in and of itself is also not a wrong notion, again, with respect to the circumstances. Obi was specifically enlisted for the position due to the fact that he was predicted to bring about an advancement for the highly traditional school. I believe Obi had a demeanor about him that made progression and c ...more
Lucile Barker
Dec 30, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
199. Girls at War by Chinua Achebe
Many of the stories included in this collection take place during or just after the Biafran-Nigerian War in the early 1970s which many people have already forgotten. There are stories like Madman, set in tribal villages where the men have several wives and send them to the market to sell goods. One story, Sugar Baby, involves a man who finds the lack of sugar in the war difficult to cope with and rots his teeth with excessive sweet things after the war. The titl
Aug 01, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think the first few stories lacked resolution. They felt incomplete (those were probably the ones Chinua Achebe wrote when he was much younger). Girls at war was a powerful, amazing tale though. It is definitely one of the best short stories that I have ever read.

2nd read: The progression of this short story collection displays Achebe's development as a writer and growth in experience. We see a shift from stories that discuss clashes between traditional Igbo culture and 'modernity' to stories
Eric Hinkle
Jul 03, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great collection of stories spanning his first 20 years of writing (including a couple pieces from his university days). Some truly swell stories here, like "The Madman", "The Sacrificial Egg", and the title story, that display his reasonably diverse styles and themes (within his major theme of the the dichotomy between traditional and modern Nigerian life). It's a pretty slender volume and left me wanting to pick up continuing volumes of his short stories. I hope he wrote many more in his next ...more
Matt Miles
Oct 06, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The strongest of this collection, three (and maybe four) of these stories succeed in Chinua Achebe's goal to preserve the memory of the Nigerian Civil War and the effect it had on its people. In each of the stories he is also looking forward, willing to point out in his frank honest style the specificity of the failures of leadership and the still-present danger of self-preservation and greed to meaningful change. His other stories are strong as well, and reflect familiar themes of the importanc ...more
Jan 04, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: brain-candy, place
There is good growth and there is bad growth. The belly does not bulge out only with food and drink; it might be the abominable disease which would end by sending its sufferer our of the house even before he was fully dead. (p. 46)

I wanted to remember why I loved Achebe so much after the mild letdown of his memoir, There Was A Country: A Personal History of Biafra. This is why: stark, simple presentation of symbolically loaded stories that he never unpacks for the reader. Like Hemingway, I prefe
Janith Pathirage
A very sad story took place in eastern Nigeria, just after the civil war has ended, What Nigerians went through that time was more horrific than the Great Depression. 1000s of bodies were piling up each day and there was no law to protect the civilians from outlaws and rebels. Protagonist of this story, Jonathan Iwegbu, a willful family man, is trying to make ends meet with his family, trying to build up their wounded lives. And its a very difficult task to accomplish with the corrupted people a ...more
Jama Jack
A nice collection of short stories from Achebe. I wasn't quite fascinated by the content, as it seemed to be a set of recurring ideas linked strongly to Igbo culture and their way of life, which is probably very distinct in most of Achebe's works. However, I loved a couple of references that led me back to the days when I was much younger and would curl up with my copy of 'Things Fall Apart' when there was nothing else to read. 'The Madman' wasmy favourite, closely followed by 'Girls At War'. Th ...more
« previous 1 3 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • You Must Set Forth at Dawn
  • Gods and Soldiers: The Penguin Anthology of Contemporary African Writing
  • The Healers
  • African Love Stories: An Anthology
  • Stars of the New Curfew
  • The Penguin Book of Modern African Poetry
  • Houseboy
  • Paul's Case
  • Sozaboy
  • Harvest of Thorns
  • Scarlet Song
  • Petals of Blood
  • The Prophet of Zongo Street: Stories
  • The Palm-Wine Drinkard
  • How to Write about Africa
  • African Myths of Origin
  • Measuring Time
  • AMA
See similar books…
Chinua Achebe was a novelist, poet, professor at Brown University and critic. He is best known for his first novel, Things Fall Apart (1958), which is the most widely read book in modern African literature.

Raised by Christian parents in the Igbo town of Ogidi in southeastern Nigeria, Achebe excelled at school and won a scholarship for undergraduate studies. He became fascinated with world religion
“...Nothing puzzles God” 17 likes
“Onye nkuzi ewelu itali piagbusie umuaka. One of the ways an emphasis is laid in Ibo is by exaggeration, so that the teacher in the refrain might not actually have flogged the children to death.” 1 likes
More quotes…