Isara: A Voyage Around Essay

Wole Soyinka, Author Random House (NY) $18.95 (262p) ISBN 978-0-394-54077-1
Like his evocative memoir Ake: The Years of Childhood , this semi-fictionalized, multigenerational family saga by the Nigerian novelist-poet-dramatist Nobel laureate is rich with the sights, sounds and textures of his native land under colonial rule. At the center is his schoolteacher father (``Essay''), unflappable, philosophical, given to browsing in exotic journals; we also meet Soyinka's grandparents locked in a sometimes tempestuous marriage, and a large cast of secondary characters, among them merchant adventurer Sipe (``Resolute Rooster''), a cripple named Node, and Ray Gunnar, a Trinidadian stowaway turned huckster. In musical, quicksilver prose, Soyinka magically re-creates a world in which local healers compete with pharmacists, and Yoruba religion vies with Christianity; African customs, rituals and traditional social relations are reshaped as Nigerians struggle to find their place in a modernizing society. After Mussolini attacked Ethiopia, the British whipped up patriotism in the Nigerian protectorate; Soyinka probes his father's generation's uneasy love-hate relationship with the British. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 10/01/1989
Release date: 10/01/1989
Paperback - 240 pages - 978-0-413-75200-0
Paperback - 262 pages - 978-0-679-73246-4
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