Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your email address or mobile phone number.
Aké: The Years of Childhood Paperback – October 23, 1989
"My Father, the Pornographer" by Fang Lizhi
A son tries to understand his late father, by reading the 400-plus novels left to him in his father's will. Check out "My Father, the Pornographer".
Frequently Bought Together
Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
The parsonage wall had vanished forever but it no longer mattered. Those token bits and pieces of Aké which had entered our home on occasions, or which gave off hints of their nature in those Sunday encounters at church, were beginning to emerge in their proper shapes and sizes.
He returned, perched upon the handlebars of a policeman's bicycle, "markedly different from whatever I was before the march." The reader's horizons feel similarly expanded after finishing this astonishing book.
Nobel laureate Soyinka is a prolific playwright, poet, novelist, and critic, but seems to have found his purest voice as an autobiographer. Aké: The Years of Childhood is a memoir of stunning beauty, humor, and perception--a lyrical account of one boy's attempt to grasp the often irrational and hypocritical world of adults that equally repels and seduces him. Soyinka elevates brief anecdotes into history lessons, conversations into morality plays, memories into awakenings. Various cultures, religions, and languages mingled freely in the Aké of his youth, fostering endless contradictions and personalized hybrids, particularly when it comes to religion. Christian teachings, the wisdom of the ogboni, or ruling elders, and the power of ancestral spirits--who alternately terrify and inspire him--all carried equal metaphysical weight. Surrounded by such a collage, he notes that "God had a habit of either not answering one's prayers at all, or answering them in a way that was not straightforward."
In writing from a child's perspective, Soyinka expresses youthful idealism and unfiltered honesty while escaping the adult snares of cynicism and intolerance. His stinging indictment of colonialism takes on added power owing to the elegance of his attack. He also spears Nigeria's increasing Westernization, its movement toward modernity and materialism, as he describes his beloved village markets deteriorating from a "procession of magicians" to rows of "fantasy stores lit by neon and batteries of coloured bulbs" where the "blare of motor-horns compete with a high-decibel outpouring of rock and funk and punk and other thunk-thunk from lands of instant-culture heroes."
The book closes with an 11-year-old Soyinka preparing to enroll in a government college, declaring it "time to commence the mental shifts for admittance to yet another irrational world of adults and their discipline." Aké is an eloquent testament to the wisdom of youth. --Shawn Carkonen
"A brilliant imagist who uses poetry and drama to convey his inquisitiveness, frustration, and sense of wonder." --Newsweek
Brilliant. . . . Transcendant. . . . It locates the lost child in all of us, underneath language, inside sound and smell, wide-eyed, brave and flummoxed. . . . Soyinka belongs in the company of . . . V. S. Naipaul, V. S. Pritchett, and Vladimir Nabokov." --The New York Times
"A delightful memoir." --The Atlantic
"Unquestionably Africa's most versatile writer and arguably her finest. . . . Ake is a classic of African autobiography, indeed a classic of childhood memoirs wherever and whenever produced." --The New York Times Book Review
More About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
It was an epiphany for the young boy, leaving the safe confines of the compound for the fascinations of the outside world. Soyinka clearly was enchanted by what he saw and experienced, following the band for many miles, to the next town, where he suddenly found himself alone. "The ragged, motley group of children who had followed, clowning, mimicking, even calling out orders had fallen off one by one. It occurred to me now that I had seen no one nor heard any of their festive voices for a while. They had all vanished, leaving no one but me."
Just as Wole, the little boy, plunged into the outside world only to find himself alone at the end, so has the mature Soyinka, the brilliant author of this densely written, deeply evocative childhood memoir, written himself into a singular position as Nigeria's leading and, perhaps most courageous, literary figure.
"Ake: The Years of Childhood" is not an easy book to read.Read more ›
The first few pages are a little bewildering, before you sink into the comfortable flow of humorous, tender, wondering memories.Read more ›
The first chapter was somewhat bewildering to me and suggested that this would be a difficult read. In retrospect, I think the confusion in which this chapter left me -- I couldn't quite fathom who was who and what was going on -- may well have been intended as a realistic reflection of the world from the eyes of a toddler. After this first chapter, the book flowed more naturally and things became clearer.
There are plenty of amusing incidents, anecdotes, and characterizations in this work. Not the least of these is Soyinka's name for his mother: "Wild Christian," an appellation borne of respect and awe. The book draws to a close with a beautifully rendered depiction of early political action by the women of Soyinka's village, with his mother one of the ringleaders. One often hears of the moral power and underappreciated economic clout of African women but I have never read such a vivid account of these realities, an account which is all the more compelling in that it is true.
I highly recommend this book as a very entertaining and accessible recounting of life in a Nigerian village when colonialism was in full flower but beginning to wilt. That it describes the formative years of a Nobel laureate and a giant of world literature is a bonus.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Nobel prize winning author Wole Soyinka recalls his early years in 30s/40s Nigeria. Son of a middle class Christian family (his father is a headmaster), the flavour of Yoruba... Read morePublished 5 months ago by sally tarbox
I found the book fascinating given that I already have some knowledge of the characters. It was a real pleasure meeting Mrs Bere Ransome-Kuti in a setting different from the... Read morePublished 8 months ago by Bimbo
He is a fine writer and full of character and perceptions. I love this Africa.Published 10 months ago by Angela Sturdee
This is a book that has 'eye opening' information about another part of the world and what it was like for him - - I found it quite interesting.Published 20 months ago by Volunteer bluebell
Wole Soyinka, the first African to ever be awarded the Noble Prize in Literature, grew up in Nigeria in the fifties, when both his native country and much of the rest of Africa was... Read morePublished 20 months ago by A Certain Bibliophile
Wole Soyanka is a Noble Prize winning Nigerian author. In this book he tells the story of his childhood. He grew up in the 1940's in Nigeria. Read morePublished on July 10, 2012 by Linda Linguvic
I expected to get a lot more from Wole Soyinka's Aké than I did. It's not every day that the childhood memoirs of a Nobel Laureate come to hand. Read morePublished on January 8, 2012 by Philip Spires
I laughed at the antics Ake was guilty of because I experienced similar events with my American born and raised boys. Boys will be boys where ever they livePublished on November 14, 2011 by Sandy Goodman