Nigerian Playwright Wole Soyinka Is Set To Publish His First Novel In Nearly 50 Years


November 3, 2020

A word from our elders!

Nigerian playwright, Wole Soyinka, is set to publish his first novel in nearly 50 years, The Guardian reports.


Soyinka rose to prominence during the 60s, publishing his critically acclaimed debut novel, The Interpreters, in 1965. His second novel, Season of Anomy, was released in 1973 and in 1986, he made history as the first African to win the Nobel prize for literature. 

A playwright, poet, and political activist, Soyinka was called “one of the finest petical playwrights that have written in English” by the Nobel prize. He was detained as a political prisoner in the 1960s, smuggling his poems out of prison on toilet paper and going into exile after he was released. He returned to Nigeria in 1975, leaving again in 1994, after having his passport confiscated by Nigerian military general Sani Abacha. Soyinka spent most of his exile teaching in the United States, returning to Nigeria in 1998 after Abacha’s death and destroying his green card for permanent residence in the U.S. after the election of Donald Trump in 2016. 

Chronicles of the Happiest People on Earth is the 86-year-old’s third book and the first novel from Soyinka in nearly five decades. Soyinka’s publisher, Bookcraft, said in a statement about the new story, “[The novel is] a narrative tour de force. [It] 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. 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 said he was inspired to write during quarantine as a result of the global pandemic. In addition to the new novel, he also has new theatrical work, with plans to direct a revival of his play, “Death and the King’s Horseman,” in Lagos this December.

“You just find yourself literally rolling from your desk to your bed to the dining table, back to the desk for five months of continuous writing. At the end of that exercise, when you finish that book, you will want to stretch your mind in a different direction. So with a combination of circumstances, it occurred to me that, ‘wait a minute, it might not be a bad idea to do a production,’” Soyinka told This Is Lagos

Chronicles of the Happiest People on Earth is to be released in Nigeria before the end of the year, with an international release slated for 2021. 


Photo Courtesy of Thomas Samson/AFP/Getty Images

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