This site uses cookies to deliver our services, improve performance, for analytics, and (if not signed in) for advertising. By using LibraryThing you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your use of the site and services is subject to these policies and terms.
Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

Ìsarà : A voyage around essay by Wole…

Ìsarà : A voyage around "essay" (1990)

by Wole Soyinka

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
851141,824 (3.5)9



Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 9 mentions

This could well be classed as one of those books with a wilfully misleading title - unless you happen to remember from reading Aké that Soyinka's father was known by the nickname "Essay". It's actually an imaginative memoir about his father's life as a young headmaster in the colonial Nigeria of the thirties and forties, reconstructed from various documents that Soyinka found in a tin box after his father's death (the title is an allusion to John Mortimer's play about his own father, of course).

I didn't plan it that way, but it turned out to be very interesting to read it soon after The Interpreters, because there are a lot of parallels between the two - both focus on a group of clever, ambitious young professionals keen to better themselves and their country, but of course they are set a generation apart, one during the colonial period, the other soon after independence. The young men are all alumni of St Simeon's Training College, Ilesa (they call themselves the "Ex-Ilés", although the - British - college principal prefers the term "Simians").

The author's father - who is bafflingly never called "Essay" here, but appears as Akinyode Soditan or Yode - loyally teaches a curriculum full of pro-imperial propaganda, but isn't taken in by it himself, and doesn't really expect his students to be. Together with the other Ex-Ilés, he believes in a future in which educated Nigerians will take advantage of the skills they've learnt from the colonial powers to take over the running of their own, progressive and thoroughly modernised country. But they find that it's not as easy as all that - there are still strong forces in play that want to get rid of the poison of European ideas and take the country back to an - illusory - ideal of the African past. This ideological conflict is brought into a tangible form when the traditional ruler of Yode's home-town, Ìsarà, dies, and there are two obvious candidates for the succession, one a conservative and the other an Ex-Ilé with a civil-service job in Lagos.

On the whole, this is a lighter, funnier book than The Interpreters - the mood is closer to Aké - but it has its moments of dark violence and sinister magical influences as well.

I was amused to see that Soyinka manages to bring in a sub-plot in which a foreign conman is practicing an advance-fee scam on innocent Nigerians. Especially since the perpetrator is a Trinidadian-Asian based in London. Surely Soyinka wouldn't be using this as a way to tease a future fellow-Nobelist...? ( )
  thorold | Mar 2, 2018 |
no reviews | add a review
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Information from the Dutch Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Important places
Information from the Dutch Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
First words
Last words
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Publisher series
Original language

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English


Book description
Haiku summary

No descriptions found.

A fictionalised memoir and sequel to Ak*e : the years of childhood. It is a tribute to the author's father and also provides a picture of the Nigeria of his father's generation - before and during the Second World War.

Quick Links

Popular covers


Average: (3.5)
3 2
3.5 1
4 2

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.


About | Contact | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 127,200,237 books! | Top bar: Always visible