The first African to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature, as well as a political activist of prodigious energies, Wole Soyinka now follows his modern classic Ake: The Years of Childhood with an equally important chronicle of his turbulent life as an adult in (and in exile from) his beloved, beleaguered homeland.
In the tough, humane, and lyrical language that has typified his plays and novels, Soyinka captures the indomitable spirit of Nigeria itself by bringing to life the friends and family who bolstered and inspired him, and by describing the pioneering theater works that defied censure and tradition. Soyinka not only recounts his exile and the terrible reign of General Sani Abacha, but shares vivid memories and playful anecdotesincluding his improbable friendship with a prominent Nigerian businessman and the time he smuggled a frozen wildcat into America so that his students could experience a proper Nigerian barbecue.
More than a major figure in the world of literature, Wole Soyinka is a courageous voice for human rights, democracy, and freedom. You Must Set Forth at Dawn is an intimate chronicle of his thrilling public life, a meditation on justice and tyranny, and a mesmerizing testament to a ravaged yet hopeful land.
Soyinka, who describes himself as a "closet glutton for tranquility", has lived a life that is intricately linked with the history of Nigeria and therefore has been anything but tranquil. As such You Must Set Forth At Dawn is first and foremost a political memoir that also serves as a political history of contemporary Nigeria. (Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).
The Washington Post - Keith B. Richburg
This is not always an easy book to read.....the memoir jumps back and forth between dates and events.....Still, as a chronicle of modern Africa and its troubles from the continent's foremost literary giant, You Must Set Forth at Dawn triumphs.
The New York Times - Norman Rush
It is a substantial account, linear but not crushingly so, and lightened by a certain amount of thematic skipping around. You Must Set Forth at Dawn is a political memoir, and should probably have been subtitled that way.
San Francisco Chronicle You Must Set Forth at Dawn is not always easy going, especially for those unfamiliar with African history. For those willing to take the journey, Soyinka's account breathes with the "fullness of an epic"
Booklist - Hazel Rochman
With the passionate close-up view of the past and the valuable insights, many of them highly critical, about today's leaders, this is a must for anyone concerned with human rights and the global web of oil, poverty, and corruption.
Humane, sensible and impeccably written; a fitting summation of a life interestingly lived, and one hopes with more reflections to come.
Soyinka's lyrical accounts of Africa's natural beauty, his eyewitness chronicle of political intrigue, and his forceful voice for human rights and democracy make this an important book for our time.
Starred Review. By turns panoramic and intimate, ruminative and politically resolute, Soyinka's memoir is a dense but intriguing conversation between a writer and his times.
Akinwande Oluwole "Wole" Soyinka (pronounced wo-lay sho-enka),
born 1934, is a Nigerian writer, poet
and playwright, considered by many to be Africa's most distinguished playwright.
He was also the first African to win the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1986
(since then, two others have won: Egyptian
Naguib Mahfouz in 1988 and South-African
Nadine Gordimer in 1991). He studied at both the University College,
Ibadan (south-west Nigeria) and at the University of Leeds (UK) where he
received a degree in English Literature.
After a time working as a playwright and a play reader for the Royal Court Theatre in London, he returned
to Nigeria, where he taught in the Universities of Lagos, Ibadan, and Ife
(becoming Professor of Comparative Literature there in 1975).
He has played
an active role in Nigeria's political history. In 1967, during the Nigerian
Civil War he was arrested and put in solitary confinement for his attempts at
brokering a peace between the warring parties.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie weaves together the lives of three characters swept up in the turbulence of a seminal moment in modern African history: Biafras impassioned struggle to establish an independent republic in Nigeria in the 1960s, and the chilling violence that followed.
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