Wednesday, 1 August 2018


'Wole Soyinka - one of the greatest writers Africa, and the world has ever seen. First African Nobel laureate. Celebrated poet. But also a sublime novelist, as this work proves. Actually the great man wrote this his debut novel many decades ago when he was still a young man. Here we concentrate on a coterie of articulate young men in particular as a nation - Nigeria- starts to stand on its own feet. Take a bow Sagoe, Egbo, Sekoni etc. Being Soyinka this is a brilliant, dense work with poetic undulations. From the start one might even give up when we read, "Metal on concrete jars my drink lobes". And what about the voluble Voidancy, "philosophy of shit" - the "business for latrine"? Farcical but gripping in its own way "farting like a beast " et al. A world class work indeed, this novel, with the author ventilating his wariness, his disdain for stultifying factors already pulling the African continent down from inception . Hark at the "moral turpitide", the hypocrisy, the smug sanctimonious elements already taking root. Apart from our intellectual young men here, broad strata of society is delineated here: eg the aristocracy, the hoi polloi, academics, demi-mondes, even albino.

The women in this novel are intriguing too, though the setting is many decades ago. Dehinwa, but Simi in particular. Simi comes across as an assertive, enigmatic, very seductive woman - in control even in respect of sex. Even the sexual details are brilliantly couched in poetic language here; yet Simi is in control. Life goes on here with ineluctable tragedies eg road accidents which the author has again been world famous for, for decades. Ravages on the road. Personally, unconsciously I find myself conflating this work with that of the talented SA writer, Deon Simphiwe Skade (author of A series of Undesirable events). In Deon 's work we are confronted too with young cerebral protagonists, with the author employing marmoreal poetic language echoing DH Lawrence. The Interpreters indeed...'


  1. I love African books, and our writers. Nothing makes me happier than laying my hands on such books, which is not so easy these days…and quite expensive. Pa Wole Soyinka for me is a god…a man who has done it all; been doing it all for many decades. It’s a shame that I was not old enough to read most of the books the great man wrote decades ago when one understands they were easily available and affordable; and one can hardly find them again. The one I read many times was The Strong Breed which I could not understand much (as usual with Soyinka) but which I still loved. His fantastically rich descriptions and unbelievable diction b dictates that whatever he writes is a treasure…what is the expression, treasure trove? This review shows Pa Soyinka is a great novelist too, though world famous as a playwright