Nigeria’s Wole Soyinka was recently honoured as a Lifetime Achievement award winner of the 78th Annual Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards www.Anisfield-Wolf.org.
Past winners include five writers who went on to win Nobel prizes – Nadine Gordimer, the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., Toni Morrison and Derek Walcott.
“The 2013 Anisfield-Wolf winners are exemplars who broaden our vision of race and diversity,” said Henry Louis Gates, Jr., who chairs the jury. “This year, there is exceptional writing about the war in Iraq, slavery on a Kentucky pig farm, the Filipino experience in the U.S., and the complexity of families in which a child is radically different from parents.”
Gates directs the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African-American Research at Harvard University, where he is also the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor. He praised the singular achievement of Wole Soyinka, the Nigerian whose writing won a Nobel prize in 1986, three years after he won an Anisfield-Wolf award for his memoir, “Ake: The Years of Childhood.”
Cleveland Foundation President and Chief Executive Officer Ronald B. Richard said this year’s winners reflect founder Edith Anisfield Wolf’s belief in the unifying power of the written word.
“The Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards rose from the philanthropic vision of one woman who realized that literature could advance the ongoing dialogue about race, culture, ethnicity, and our shared humanity,” Richard said.
About Wole Soyinka
Wole Soyinka is a Nigerian playwright, poet, essayist, and profile in courage. At 78, he still afflicts the political tyrannies in his path, as he has since he was a young man. In 1967, Nigerian authorities arrested Soyinka and placed him in solitary confinement for 22 months for attempting to broker peace during the Biafran War. The prisoner wrote on scraps of paper, which contributed to “The Man Died: Prison Notes of Wole Soyinka.” The Nobel Jury cited him as a writer “who in a wide cultural perspective and with poetic overtones fashions the drama of existence.” Soyinka splits his time between his Nigerian home in Ogun state and teaching at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.