Prose FictionPost Comment Prose Fiction Nigeria
Nigerian prose fiction in English started with Amos Tutuola, who in 1952, published The Palmwine Drinkard, apparently in imitation of the Yoruba novelist D. 0., Fagunwa, who had earlier published Ogboju Ode Ninu lgbo lrunrnole (later translated by Soyinka and The Forest of a Thousand Demons), lgbo Olodumare and Ireke Onibudo. Tutuola was apparently persuaded to turn his document (originally written in Yoruba) into English and in the process, he produced a' ghostly, grisly work', which stunned Europe and created an awareness of Nigerian literature far beyond the expectation of the author.
Until recently, Tutuola was almost alone among Nigerian novelists in his wholesale embrace of the spirit world. But the novelist Ben Okri has now joined him, especially with his award winning novel The Famished Road (1990). If there is some doubt about the symbolic purpose in Tutuola's works, there certainly is none about that of Ben Okri. In The Famished Road, the spirit-child (abiku/ogbanje) exists not just on his own level as an infinitely fascinating and enigmatic being but is used as a metaphor to depict the Nigerian nation (or, indeed, any other African or Third World nation) with its poverty and instability, its precarious existence, and the doubt as to whether it will survive or perish.
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