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Theguardian 1 week, 3 days ago

Chronicles from the Land of the Happiest People on Earth review – Nigeria unmasked

Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka’s first novel in 50 years is a fearless satire about idealism running up against corruption and greed Wole Soyinka won the Nobel prize for literature in 1986, the first black person to win the award. He is perhaps the most versatile of African writers, equally at home in all genres; his dramatic masterpieces, such as Kongi’s Harvest and Death and the King’s Horseman , have been produced all over the world. His poetry anthology, Poems of Black Africa (1975), remains the most authoritative showcase of the writings of the first generation of postcolonial African poets, from Agostinho Neto to Léopold Senghor to Dennis Brutus – a generation that is fast dwindling, with Soyinka, now 87, one of the few left, still publishing books year after year. He makes the perfect poster figure: imprisoned, exiled, perpetually seeking to reform his country by turning out books critical of the corrupt rulers who, after the euphoria of independence from the colonial Europeans, have continued exactly where they left off, using the same playbook of divide and rule. His two novels, The Interpreters (1965) and Season of Anomy (1973), were less celebrated than his poetry and drama. But nearly 50 years later, we have Chronicles from the Land of the Happiest People on Earth – written, Soyinka has said, to stave off boredom during the pandemic. The title nods to one of those mysterious internet surveys that some years back ranked Nigeria No 1 in the world on the “happiness index”. The irony of this permeates the entire book. Continue reading...

Chronicles from the Land of the Happiest People on Earth review – Nigeria unmasked

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