Only seven African writers have won the Nobel Prize for Literature. The last to join the list was Abdulrazak Gurnah this year and the forerunner of all of them was Wole Soyinca in the eighties. The Nigerian was the first black writer to achieve the highest award from the Swedish Academy and now he is returning to fiction with a new novel, Chronicles from the country of the happiest people on Earth, published by Alfaguara, at a time when African literature finally has more voice.
“I am glad that this award has returned to my continent. I believe that the Western readers are beginning to realize the artistic wealth of Africa, not only in literature, “he said at a press conference in Madrid.” I do not believe in quotas or regional representations or anything like that. It seems to me something very condescending and it would be horrible if the Academy thought of giving an award to someone because they play. They have the obligation to be adventurous and continue surprising the world “, added the author of Aké. The childhood years.
The Nobel Prize was a shock in the career of this writer who has always been in the crosshairs of the censorship of his country, a persecution that the award intensified. “There is not a single human being who does not value receiving a prize, but in the case of the Nobel, it is an immense burden. Existence in the third world is complicated enough and a prize like this gives you some protection against power, but it also arouses some envy, “he told reporters.
The presence of black and African-American writers at international awards is of paramount social importance. From many sectors it has been seen as a mea culpa from the West, which has had to do with social movements such as the Black Lives Matter, increased after the outbreak of racism and xenophobia in recent years. Soyinka was always very critical of Donald Trump and everything that his politics meant. He decided to break his American green card due to the immigration policies of the former president. “He has been one of the most dangerous heads of state in history, it is an insult to the human being and I believe that he is not completely out and that the danger still exists. He was in charge of millions of people and with the covid he admitted that he knew about the extent of the danger. But he did nothing to confront the threat and that makes him responsible for at least half of the deaths from this disease in the country. He is a mass murderer and the United States has to wake up and realize what which means ‘Trumpism’ “, he lamented.
Soyinka currently lives in Nigeria, where she has returned from exile, and acknowledges that she misses the “anonymity” from before winning the Nobel Prize. “It has been terrible for me and it is a constant struggle on a day-to-day basis to regain a certain degree of anonymity and return to being the person as before.” And while continuing to write. The novel is not his favorite genre, but he recognizes that he needed to jump in and tell his feelings of the moment. Chronicles from the country of the happiest people on earth is a political satire on corruption in mystery novel form in an imaginary Nigeria.