The book begins:. The sprawling, undulating terrain is all of Ake. More than mere loyalty to the parsonage gave birth to a puzzle and a resentment that God should choose to look down on his own highest station, the parsonage compound, from the profane heights of Itoko. There was of course the mystery of the chief stable with live horses near the crest of the hill, but beyond that, this dizzying road only sheered upwards from one noisy market to another, looking down across Ibarata and Ita Ake into the most secret recesses of the parsonage itself.
|Published (Last):||7 May 2015|
|PDF File Size:||15.37 Mb|
|ePub File Size:||6.47 Mb|
|Price:||Free* [*Free Regsitration Required]|
Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read. Want to Read saving…. Want to Read Currently Reading Read. Other editions. Enlarge cover. Error rating book. Refresh and try again. Open Preview See a Problem? Details if other :. Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. A dazzling memoir of an African childhood from Nobel Prize-winning Nigerian novelist, playwright, and poet Wole Soyinka. A relentlessly curious child who loved books and getting into trouble, Soyinka grew up on a parsonage A dazzling memoir of an African childhood from Nobel Prize-winning Nigerian novelist, playwright, and poet Wole Soyinka.
A relentlessly curious child who loved books and getting into trouble, Soyinka grew up on a parsonage compound, raised by Christian parents and by a grandfather who introduced him to Yoruba spiritual traditions. His vivid evocation of the colorful sights, sounds, and aromas of the world that shaped him is both lyrically beautiful and laced with humor and the sheer delight of a child's-eye view.
Get A Copy. Paperback , pages. Published October 23rd by Vintage first published More Details Original Title. Anisfield-Wolf Book Award Other Editions Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
Can I get a fre copy of this book from anyone? Mohammed Kromah Can I a free copy of this from anyone? Lists with This Book. Community Reviews. Showing Average rating 3. Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Jun 25, Lisa rated it it was amazing Shelves: nobels. What a mistake to underestimate the rationality of children while overestimating that of grown-ups! To a child, the grown-up rules and routines, their ideas and dogmas, seem overwhelmingly crazy.
The pedagogical value of forbidding shoes in a school remains a mystery, both to the young boy about to change schools yet a "It is time to commence the mental shifts for admittance to yet another irrational world of adults and their discipline.
The pedagogical value of forbidding shoes in a school remains a mystery, both to the young boy about to change schools yet again on the very last page of this account, and to the reader, who also has to bid farewell to the magic of this very special childhood with a father called Essay S. The sheer variety of cultural and natural influences is a brilliant manifesto for human crosscultural learning and understanding. I have long been an admirer of Wole Soyinka's poetry and plays, and his childhood memories fully explain how he developed the wit, intelligence and empathy to create them.
A noble Nobel! View all 8 comments. Jul 13, Aubrey rated it it was amazing Shelves: non-fiction , person-of-everything , 1-read-on-hand , authorness , r-goodreads , reviewed , antidote-think-twice-read , antidote-think-twice-all , nobel-prize-people , 5-star. How often do I call something 'Proustian'? Not that often, yes?
So, pay attention, because this work brings to mind that languid tidal wave in all the right ways. Out of the entirety of ISoLT, Swann's Way is the volumetric portion that stays with me, both out of the initial contact of superb wonder and my penchant for childhood narratives that don't talk down to its younger self.
Each and every sentence is more of a beam than a part, interchange of far reaching wave and concentrating of particle as Soyinka conjures up his childhood in as delightfully subsuming a manner as the best fiction often does. He didn't win the Nobel Prize for nothing, I can tell you that. Of course, that previous reference doesn't persuade as well as I used to think, so there must be more.
First off there's the novelty, for how often do you read an autobiography set in a Yoruba village in western Nigeria? Admittedly, the story taking place before and during WWII grounds one a bit, but here the new is traded for the novel lens, a view of things both turned on its head and lushly unique. I wouldn't hold your breath if that's your main incentive for reading, though. Soyinka does not live through the war on paper till he is eleven, and there are memories from three to two to an unnamed farther back in his yearly life to first off contemplate and contend.
If a child is telling you a story, wouldn't you say that it's best they be both precocious and all too young, offering up tales of strange exploits combined with the most precious of thoughts? If that's the case, I cannot think of a more perfect protagonist than little Wole. Always stubborn, always questioning, always following his interests both physical and intellectual, viewing the admonishment of various adults as guidelines he is fully free to evaluate and critique in as vocal a manner as is necessary.
That latter audacious insight leads to rampant classifications, formation of definition for everything from the 'without time' guava tree to his own parents, the nickname of his father of especial note: It did not take long for him to enter my consciousness simply as Essay, as one of those careful stylistic exercises in prose which follow set rules of composition, are products of fastidiousness and elegance, set down in beautiful calligraphy that would be the envy of most copyists of any age.
This mentality counters and swerves around every aspect of life, portraying in astonishing ways every matter encountered by a child, communal bedrooms and hungry house-guests considered just as thoughtfully as culture clash and the passage of time.
Amongst all these disparate scenes of a child's life intersecting with events both tickling and somber, a particular favorite of mine is the eclectic rhetoric birthed by the principal at Wole's Grammar School demanding that every student accused of a misdemeanor defend themselves in a schoolyard trial.
If the defense meets Daodu's, the esteemed Winston Churchillesque principal himself, standards, the accused goes free, the obviousness of their crime or the absurdity of their argument having little to no impact on the decision. This surprisingly reasonable stance leads to eloquence regarding the matter of a stolen chicken being conducted along the lines of: I concurred principal, and there being no time like now because action speaks louder than words time and tide waiteth for no man opportunity once lost cannot be regained saves nine, principal, and finally, one good turn deserves another so, with these thoughts for our guide, we spread out, closed in on this cock in order to catch it and restore to the poultry yard from which it escaped.
In contrast, yes there are mentions of colonialism, racism, sexism, and usual age old mix of -isms and co. However, the young Wole's view is always a mix of engagement and critique, accepting what makes sense to him and puzzling over the nonsensical with the aid of knowledgeable adults. I will admit that the last events view spoiler [of a powerful feminist uprising combined with a well grounded criticism of the acts of white people in WWII hide spoiler ] won my heart in the most biased of ways, but I challenge anyone to not be stirred by those dramatic last pages.
Finally, this boy from a young age has a fervent interest in books. What's not to love about that? I looked at him in some astonishment. Not feel like coming to school! The coloured maps, pictures and other hangings on the walls, the coloured counters, markers, slates, inkwells in neat round holes, crayons and drawing-books, a shelf laden with modelled objects - animals, human beings, implements - raffia and basket-work in various stages of completion, even the blackboards, chalk, and duster I had yet to see a more inviting playroom!
In addition, I had made some vague, intuitive connection between school and the piles of books with which my father appeared to commune so religiously in the front room, and which had constantly to be snatched from me as soon as my hands grew long enough to reach them on the table.
View all 10 comments. How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. How the bewilderment of a little boy is captured through his grownup self and laid bare on the page. The contradictions: thou art not the easiest to read, nevertheless, thou art very entertaining. The dramatic scenes that really come alive with humor and truth. Loved the portrayal of a worldwide fear and resentment of Hitler, how a drunk Hitler in army fatigues, came all the way to the small Nigerian town of Ake and peed in the water pot.
All grown up and now a Nobel Laureate. Go figure. As if I've been cheated somehow, having missed out on a classic addition to African Literature, one that undoubtedly helped mold the form of creative nonfiction. Of coming-of-age literary memoirs--just as its counterparts did for American coming-of-age literary nonficiton memoirs like: This Boy's Life and A Childhood: The Biography of a Place. I love how like these books about boyhood, thou doesn't t tell me anything in particular, yet thou tells me everything.
Loved seeing the narrator's relationship with his godmother, with the bookseller, and with his mother. Someday, I will make thee required reading in my classroom. View all 11 comments. I often forgot I was reading a memoir.
Instead, I was there with little Wole, following him around as he explored and learned and discovered. I could see his home and village and school. More importantly, I could feel the presence of Essay, Wild Christian, Father, Tinu and I got scared when he got scared, or bold when he got bold.
I heard his questions, oh so many questions he would pester everyone with, that at the ripe age of four he already had a reputation as a too curious-for-his-own-good c I often forgot I was reading a memoir.
I heard his questions, oh so many questions he would pester everyone with, that at the ripe age of four he already had a reputation as a too curious-for-his-own-good child.
Adults kindly warned each other to prepare for his never-ending barrage of questions. And I loved it. I mean his questions were of genuine curiosity, this was a child thirsting to understand the world, make sense of it, and make use of it way before most children would be forming proper sentences. I also loved the cultural richness and the way I was exposed to it all. The simplicity of complex issues like someone who was a Muslim but converted to Christianity, or the fact that everyone was afraid of juju even though no one knew what else to make of it, or the desire to abolish taxation in the face of corruption… I come across so much in this novel through the eyes of young Wole which remained innocent and judgment-free, as they should.
And I loved all the Yoruba words for food, clothes, relations.
Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read. Want to Read saving…. Want to Read Currently Reading Read. Other editions.
Ake: The Years of Childhood
When the book was first published, The New York Times reviewer wrote:. Playwright, poet, novelist, polemical essayist and now autobiographer, Mr. Soyinka is unquestionably Africa's most versatile writer and arguably her finest. In Ake he has produced an account of his childhood as a Yoruba in western Nigeria that is destined to become a classic of African autobiography, indeed a classic of childhood memoirs wherever and whenever produced Through recollection, restoration and re-creation, he conveys a personal vision that was formed by the childhood world that he now returns to evoke and exalt in his autobiography. This is the ideal circle of autobiography at its best. It is what makes Ake, in addition to its other great virtues, the best available introduction to the work of one of the liveliest, most exciting writers in the world today.
Excerpts from Works of Wole Soyinka
Aké: The Years of Childhood