Lockdown unearthed a lot of talents and brought forth innovation at its best as many sought ways to survive time in isolation. Wole Soyinka used his time to break his almost 50 years novel hiatus and has announced the release of a new novel.
The brilliant Nigerian writer and political activist, who has been very critical about happenings within Nigerian politics and Africa in general, was the first African to win the Nobel Prize for literature in 1986.
With over 50 pieces of work, his writings include two novels, The Interpreters, in 1965 and Season of Anomy, in 1973. He has also written poems, memoirs, and essays that capture his cultural traditions and use of rich language.
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The lockdown inspired novel, Chronicles of the Happiest People on Earth, is the third one by the prolific writer. The 524-page book is set to be released on December 1, 2020.
Soyinka’s publisher, Bookcraft, speaks highly of the novel, according to The Guardian. “This novel has got everything – friendship and betrayal; faith and treachery; hope and cynicism; murder, mayhem and no shortage of drama, all set against the backdrop of contemporary Nigeria,” said the publisher.
“As you would expect from a Soyinka work, it’s got plenty of colourful characters, profound insights, witty commentary, and the most elegant language.”
Soyinka is known to be extra creative when in a confined location. His stint in prison in 1967 made his writing even louder. Soyinka was arrested for illegally visiting the secessionist territory Biafra in 1967. He had met with the secessionist leader, military governor Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu in Enugu in 1966, and was forced to go into hiding as he was labeled a spy during the civil strife between the Nigerian government and Biafra.
In prison, despite the lack of writing materials, he was able to produce a significant body of poems and notes criticizing the Nigerian government. Some of his works, including The Lion and The Jewel, The Trials of Brother Jero and The Strong Breed were produced in Ghana and New York.
In an interview with This is Lagos, Soyinka revealed that the lockdown period did not stifle his creativity, rather, it enabled him to write a new novel and do theater work again as he is set to co-direct a revival of his play Death and the King’s Horseman in Lagos this December.
Soyinka’s writings and drama truly reflect the goings-on in the cultural and political life of Africans. His philosophical plays include The Road (1965) and Death and the King’s Horseman (performed 1976, published 1975).
The Nigerian playwright and poet continues to engage in political activism, highlighting the different situations people of Nigeria and other Black people are going through in the world. He recently came to the limelight for tearing up his green card days after American President Donald Trump was elected.