Sunday, March 29, 2015
A warm family in a cold world
This book took a little while to get into (the first 15 pages or so were hard to push through for me) but once I was involved with the story I was glad that I'd made the effort.
Wole Soyinka does an amazing job of regressing the reader to his childish viewpoint while still telling his story in a way that adults can understand. As the book moves through itself, and as the narrator ages, the memoir moves from a more febrile, magical perspective to a touching recollection of his family during a very frightening time.
I loved experiencing the percolation of knowledge through the narrator as he grew up and began to recognize a world beyond the walls of his family compound and indeed beyond the borders of his country.
Every person described is interesting and complete and touching, even if they are described with dislike they're granted their humanity and the understanding that maybe they're an okay person, just someone with different motivations.
The book is transporting, the language is lush and beautiful and makes you see the streets where Wole walked as a child, and hear the sizzle of cooking and smell the rich foods he so desperately wanted to scrounge from the family pantry. It's a very sensory book for the first two thirds of the story, and then becomes a very intellectual book as Wole the baby becomes Wole the boy and starts to participate in the various intrigues and uprisings around him.
The tale of the Nigerian Women's Movement from this unique perspective is intensely moving and makes you want to charge up and take political actions of your own - makes you want to be something bigger and wholer than you are now.
Soyinka, Wole. Aké: the years of childhood. Vintage International. New York: New York.