Nigerian Novelists, Politics

On Nigerian novelists: 

Conflict and corruption, exile and loss. The new novelists chronicling modern Nigeria and its place in the world shy from none of it….

“I set out to write books about Nigeria, and Nigeria happens to be a country in which politics plays a major role,” Adichie — now splitting her time between public readings for her new book and graduate classes at Yale — said in a telephone interview from her New Haven, Connecticut home.

Politics and literature are often linked. For Nigerians, the model is Soyinka, a larger than life figure with an actor’s flair for drama — he has appeared in his own plays — and shock of white hair to complete the image of passionate intellectual. Soyinka once single-handedly stormed a Nigerian radio station to try to prevent a corrupt politician from claiming an election victory. These days, Soyinka speaks out against what he sees as the dictatorial ambitions of Olusegun Obasanjo, a former military ruler turned civilian politician. Habila, who counts Soyinka among his influences, notes the Nobel literature laureate is “in his 70s and he’s still carrying placards in the streets of Lagos. “Most writers would have given up by their 70s — certainly given up on Nigeria. But not Soyinka. That’s a great lesson for people like me,” Habila said in an interview at the University of East Anglia in England….

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