: Soyinka (W.)

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444pp., paperback, London, 2021


Wole Soyinka's first novel in nearly 50 years, set in an imaginary African country.

"Chronicles is a good model for what the political novel should be: fearless, disdaining formal constraints, sparing no one, leaving behind it a scorched earth littered with the burnt figures of corrupt politicians and military dictators and religious charlatans and social parasites, and even the masses who, in the name of religion and tribe, are made tools of the elite. In the end, it is a triumph of the novel as a form: its ability to accommodate all styles and approaches. How lucky we are that Soyinka has decided to give that form another go." Helon Habila, The Guardian

"This is essentially a whistleblower’s book. It is a novel that explodes criminal racketeering of a most sinister and deadly kind that is operating in an African nation uncomfortably like Nigeria. It is a vivid and wild romp through a political landscape riddled with corruption and opportunism and a spiritual landscape riddled with fraudulence and, even more disquietingly, state-sanctioned murder. This is a novel written at the end of an artist’s tether. It has gone beyond satire. It is a vast danse macabre ... No one else can write such a book and get away with it ... It is a high-wire performance sustained for more than 400 pages and it makes for uncomfortable and despairing reading, but always elevated with a robust sense of humour and the true satirist’s unwillingness to take the pretensions of power seriously, even when it is murderous in effect ... It is Soyinka's greatest novel, his revenge against the insanities of the nation's ruling class and one of the most shocking chronicles of an African nation in the 21st century. It ought to be widely read" Ben Okri, author of The Famished Road

Wole Soyinka was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1986. Born in Abeokuta, Nigeria, in 1934, he is an author, playwright, poet, essayist, academic and political activist whose body of work includes the novels The Interpret­ers (1965) and Season of Anomy (1973) and the play Death and the King’s Horseman.