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Lockdown Pushed Wole Soyinka to Write his First Novel in Almost 50 Years

The Nigerian playwright and poet, who became the first African to win the Nobel Prize for literature in 1986, published his widely celebrated debut novel, The Interpreters, in 1965. His second and most recent novel, Season of Anomy, was released in 1973. Chronicles of the Happiest People on Earth, which will be published in Nigeria before the end of the year, will be his third. Soyinka’s Nigerian publisher Bookcraft, which called the novel “a narrative tour de force”, confirmed there are plans to publish the book internationally in early 2021. “This novel has got everything – friendship and betrayal; faith and treachery; hope and cynicism; murder, mayhem and no shortage of drama, all set against the backdrop of contemporary Nigeria,” said the publisher. “As you would expect from a Soyinka work, it’s got plenty of colourful characters, profound insights, witty commentary, and the most elegant language.” Soyinka says that the coronavirus-related lockdown had helped inspire new writing, as well as new theatrical work, with Soyinka planning to co-direct a revival of his play Death and the King’s Horseman in Lagos this December.