Nobel Prize Winner Wole Soyinka’s First Novel Since 1972, Sept. 2021, Pt. 4 | Prepub Alert

A book that will make news. 

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Soyinka, Wole. Chronicles from the Land of the Happiest People on Earth. Pantheon. Sept. 2021. 512p. ISBN 9780593320167. $28.95. lrg. prnt. LITERARY

Nigerian playwright, novelist, poet, and political activist (he joined Nigeria’s fight for independence, clashed with subsequent Nigerian governments, lambasted apartheid, and burned his green card when Donald Trump was elected president), Soyinka was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1986. As he noted in his address, it was “the first Nobel Prize awarded to an African writer or to any writer from the 'new literatures' in English thatWole Soyinka have emerged in the former colonies of the British Empire." In this, his first novel in nearly 50 years, Soyinka imagines a Nigeria in which a crafty entrepreneur is stealing body parts from Dr. Menka’s hospital and selling them for ritual use. Dr. Menka shares this awful finding with his distinguished friend Duyole Pitan-Payne, who’s about to assume a key position at the UN, and it soon emerges that Duyole is himself in danger. Both a pointed critique of Nigeria’s political elite—and of political abuse worldwide—and a rollercoaster ride of a literary thriller to discover the culprit, this book should make news.

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Barbara Hoffert

Barbara Hoffert (bhoffert@mediasourceinc.com, @BarbaraHoffert on Twitter) is Editor, LJ Book Review; past chair of the Materials Selection Committee of the RUSA (Reference and User Services Assn.) division of the American Library Association; and past president of the National Book Critics Circle, to which she has just been reelected.

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