Summary and book reviews of Chronicles from the Land of the Happiest People on Earth by Wole Soyinka

Chronicles from the Land of the Happiest People on Earth

A Novel

by Wole Soyinka

Chronicles from the Land of the Happiest People on Earth by Wole Soyinka X
Chronicles from the Land of the Happiest People on Earth by Wole Soyinka
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     Not Yet Rated
  • Published:
    Sep 2021, 464 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Grace Graham-Taylor
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About this Book

Book Summary

From the first Black winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature and one of our fiercest political activists, a fictional meditation on power and greed - at once a literary hoot, a whodunit, and a scathing indictment of political and social corruption.

In an imaginary Nigeria, a cunning entrepreneur is selling body parts stolen from Dr. Menka's hospital for use in ritualistic practices. Dr. Menka shares the grisly news with his oldest college friend, bon viveur, star engineer, and Yoruba royal, Duyole Pitan-Payne. The life of every party, Duyole is about to assume a prestigious post at the United Nations in New York, but it now seems that someone is determined that he not make it there. And neither Dr. Menka nor Duyole knows why, or how close the enemy is, or how powerful.

Chronicles from the Land of the Happiest People on Earth is a stirring call to arms against the abuse of power from one of our fiercest political activists, who also happens to be a global literary giant.

1. Oke Konran-Imoran

Papa Davina, also known as Teribogo, preferred to craft his own words of wisdom. Such, for instance, was his famous "Perspective is all."

The early-morning Seeker, his first and only client on that day and a very special, indeed dedicated session, looked up and nodded agreement. Papa D. pointed: "Move to that window. Draw back the curtain and look through."

It was somewhat gloomy in the audience chamber, and it took a while for the Seeker to grope her way along the wide folds to find the middle parting. She took the heavy drapes between both hands and waited. Papa Davina signaled to her to complete the motion, continuing in his soothing, near-meditative tone: "When you step into these grounds, it is essential that you forget what you are, who you were. Think of yourself only as the Seeker. I shall be your guide. I do not belong to the vulgar traders in the prophetic mission. The days of the great prophets are gone. I am with you only as Prescience. Only the ...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Whilst Chronicles is in many ways excellent, it would not be unreasonable to say that it is a difficult book. The plot is so densely woven that it sometimes feels like wandering blindly through a thicket, with so many layers that it veers towards the convoluted. Soyinka's writing is a little baroque, and he has a habit of dropping you into situations first and explaining later. Yet criticisms of style feel frivolous when placed against the importance of the themes he addresses, and the power with which he conveys his message. To be able to do so with such eloquence, not to mention humor, is a great gift...continued

Full Review Members Only (719 words).

(Reviewed by Grace Graham-Taylor).

Media Reviews

NPR
Chronicles — though it flashes with Soyinka's sharp social and political humor, takes a herculean effort to read...though he's a great writer, this book does not reflect the brilliant canon of work Soyinka's known for.

Publishers Weekly
Nobel Prize winner Soyinka's first novel in almost 50 years delivers a sharp-edged satire of his native Nigeria...Those with a solid grounding in current Nigerian politics are most likely to pick up on allusions to events and personalities that will elude the lay reader. Still, the imaginatively satirical treatment of serious issues makes this engaging on multiple levels.

Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
A richly satirical novel, his first since 1973, by the Nigerian Nobel Prize winner...Dazzling wordplay and subtle allusion mark this most welcome return to fiction.

Reader Reviews

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Beyond the Book

Eshu: The Yoruba God of Mischief

Wood sculpture of kneeling figure (Eshu-Elegba), Brooklyn Museum Eshu (also spelled Esu, and also known as Elegba) is a powerful deity in the Ifa religion of the Yoruba people of Western Africa. He is an orisha, a figure that can be a representation of human or divine characteristics or concepts, as well as aspects of nature, such as rivers. A primordial orisha, Eshu represents mischief. However, he is also a mediator and a force for change and growth. In Chronicles from the Land of the Happiest People on Earth, Wole Soyinka refers to Eshu as "the lord of the crossroads," a place with which he is often associated. Crossroads are places of uncertainty and possibilities, which is in keeping with Eshu's multifaceted nature.

Eshu is considered a kind of messenger between gods and men. According to ...

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