Wole Soyinka’s first novel in 48 years out in September | Sunday Observer

Wole Soyinka’s first novel in 48 years out in September

2 May, 2021

“Chronicles from the Land of the Happiest People on Earth”

By Wole Soyinka
Publisher - Pantheon Books

African writer, Nobel Laureate and political activist Wole Soyinka’ new novel will be published on September 28, 2021. The book is titled “Chronicles from the Land of the Happiest People on Earth,” and itis the first novel to be published in nearly fifty years.

The book will be edited by Erroll McDonald, Vice President and Executive Editor at Pantheon, andit will be published simultaneously with Bloomsbury Publishing in the UK. It will also be published in hardcover and as an eBook and also on audio from Penguin Random House.

Set in an imaginary Nigeria, “Chronicles from the Land of the Happiest People on Earth” is at once a savagely witty whodunit and a corrosively satirical examination of corruption, both personal and political. Duyole Pitan-Payne, a celebrated engineer and Yoruba royal who is the life of every party, is about to assume a prestigious post at the United Nations in New York, only someone is determined that he not make it there. Dr. Menka, his childhood friend, needs to know why, but he soon finds there are some questions that are best left unanswered.

“It is a tour de force,” McDonald says. “Unsparingly gimlet-eyed, it is an often-hilarious meditation on the vicissitudes of power and greed as they corrupt the soul of a nation.”

Soyinka was born in Abeokuta, Nigeria in 1934. He is an author, playwright, poet and political activist, whose prolific body of work includes “The Interpreters,” his debut novel that was published in 1965, and the play, “Death and the King’s Horseman,” which was first performed in 1976. Soyinka was twice jailed for his criticism of the Nigerian government, and he destroyed his Green Card in 2016 when Donald Trump was elected President of the United States. In 1986, he became the first African to be awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.

Paulo Coelho’s new novel “Encounter”s published

Encounters: Day Planner 2021 Calendar – July 28, 2020
By Paulo Coelho
Publisher – Knopf/ Vintage

World renowned, bestselling Brazillian author Paulo Coelho’s new novel Encounters (Encuentros) was published.

Paulo Coelho has inspired millions with bestselling classics such as The Alchemist, The Pilgrimage, Manuscript Found in Accra, Adultery, The Spy and most recently, Hippie. Now, with this 2021 day planner, the same wisdom that draws readers to his books time and time again can serve as a source of daily inspiration year round. Available in English and Spanish, Encounters (Encuentros) features moving and revealing quotes by Paulo Coelho. More than your average planner, readers can begin each day with a word of wisdom, receive spiritual food-for-thought as they navigate through their everyday lives, and have Coelho be their guide as they plan and embark on their own travels and personal journeys.

Issabel Allende’s new memoir The Soul of a Woman launches

The Soul of a Woman
By Issabel Allende
Publisher - Bloomsbury

Literary legend Isabel Allende’s new memoir was launched. It’s a meditation on power, feminism and what it means to be a woman. One critic said about the books as “The Soul of a Woman is Isabel Allende’s most liberating book yet.”

“When I say that I was a feminist in kindergarten, I am not exaggerating,” begins Isabel Allende in this memoir. As a child, she watched her mother, abandoned by her husband, provide for her three small children without “resources or voice.” Isabel became a fierce and defiant little girl, determined to fight for the life her mother couldn’t have. As a young woman coming of age in the late 1960s, she rode the first wave of feminism. She has seen what has been accomplished by the movement in the course of her lifetime. And over the course of three marriages, she has learned how to grow as a woman while having a partner, when to step away, and the rewards of embracing one’s sexuality.

So what do women want? To be safe, to be valued, to live in peace, to have their own resources, to be connected, to have control over their bodies and lives, and above all, to be loved. On all these fronts, there is much work to be done, and this book, Allende hopes, will ‘light the torch of our daughters and granddaughters with mine. They will have to live for us, as we lived for our mothers, and carry on with the work still left to be finished.’

Independent newspaper said about the books,“In her small, potent polemic . . . Isabel Allende writes about the toxic effects of “machismo”, combining wit with anger as she picks apart the patriarchy.” And Grazia mentioned as, “An autobiographical meditation on feminism, power and womanhood . . . full of Isabel’s wisdom and warm words.”

According to Sydney Morning Herald,“Her thoughts, language and ideas traverse fluidly through ideas of gender, historic injustices, her marriages and bodily experiences and literary references . . . Allende’s love for women is palpable.”

“Allende has everything it takes: the ear, the eye, the mind, the heart, the all-encompassing humanity,” New York Times said.

Orhan Pamuk oversees the pandemic

Nights of Plague
By OrhanPamuk
Publisher - Hamish Hamilton Australia

Turkish novelist and Nobel Laureate OrhanPamuk’s new novel, Nights of Plague which is set in 1901 during the third plague pandemic, is to be launched in August. The novel, which he has been working on for four years, will also include his drawings and hand-drawn maps, being his attempt at illustrating the world he is creating.

The book is named VebaGeceleri in Turkish, in a timely arrival when the world can resonate with a plague outbreak on a fictional Ottoman island as it scrambles to end the unprecedented plague of the 21st century: The COVID-19 pandemic.

“I had been pondering about this novel for 40 years and have been writing it over the last four years,” Pamuk told daily Hürriyet in an interview.When asked how he felt about the coincidental time of the coronavirus pandemic overlapping with the publishing of his book, Pamuk said he was “astonished.”

“The story of the novel was a world in which I thought people would not be interested. But all of a sudden, after the COVID-19 pandemic, people started living these first-hand, one that I was thinking in the novel. It was like, something you do secretly had shown up.”

The book, “Nights of Plague,” tells the stories of an Ottoman governor, a doctor and an army major, fighting a plague epidemic on a fictional Ottoman island called Minger.

“When the pandemic began [in 2020], I was in the U.S. for lectures. I flew back to Turkey. When I learnt the first coronavirus stories in Istanbul, I thought that those stories were like my stories in the novel”, he said.

He, then, penned an article for the New York Times, where he said he had been writing a book about a pandemic for the last four years.

“After they published the article, publishing houses in more than 50 countries called and pressed me to finish the book as soon as possible,” he added. When asked about the similarities and differences of the novel with the world today, he said, “My novel is scarier than today’s world.”

“In the world of 1901, only five percent of the population were literate. In today’s Turkey, that rate is 95. Some 75 percent of the people have access to the internet. So, today, we know things. Whatever happens in a neighborhood or the world, we learn that very quickly. This is a big difference between today’s world and the world in the novel.”

Pamuk, 68, has received both doses of his Covid-19 vaccine. He, born in 1952, is a recipient of the 2006 Nobel Prize in Literature. He is the author of the novels “Silent House,” “The Black Book,” “My Name is Red” and “The Museum of Innocence.” The sales of 13 million books in 63 languages has made him Turkey’s best-selling writer. He teaches writing and comparative literature at the U.S.’s Columbia University.

Compiled by Ravindra Wijewardhane