Nobelist Reads From His Books
First African Laureate in Literature Discusses His Works
Wole Soyinka, the 1986 winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, read selected passages from his books and poems yesterday in a lecture sponsored by the Afro-American Studies Department.
Soyinka, the first African Nobel laureate in literature, delivered his lecture, "Creative Barriers," to a crowd of about 150 in Emerson Hall.
Soyinka began by reading from some of his works, including the poem, "Mohammed Ali at the Ring-side," and an excerpt from his play, Death and the King's Horsemen.
He also read a passage from his novel, Isara, which he called "a slightly fictionalized account of the life of my father."
After his readings, Soyinka answered questions. from the audience. Soyinka discussed his essay, entitled, "Beyond the Berlin Wall."
Soyinka said the essay was based on notes that he took while imprisoned in Uganda in the 1960s. A jail, Soyinka said, "gives the prisoner a background of warnings and guidances."
"I'm talking about the whole issue of power and freedom," Soyinka said. "People were shot trying to cross [the Berlin] wall and [then] it came down, opening up so many possibilities, asking so many questions."
Soyinka last spoke at Harvard in 1981 when, as a visiting professor at Yale, he lectured on "The 'Guerilla' Movement in African Theater."
The author, whose novels include The Interpreter and Season of Anomy, has also written many plays, poems and works of nonfiction.