The poet and playwright Wole Soyinka is a towering figure in world literature. He has won international acclaim for his verse, as well as for novels such as The Interpreters. His work in the theater ranges from the early comedy The Lion and the Jewel to the poetic tragedy Death and the King's Horseman.
Born in Nigeria, he returned from graduate studies in England just as his country attained its independence from Britain. Many of his plays, including Kongi's Harvest and Madmen and Specialists, are bitter satires on the dictatorships of post-colonial Africa. In the late '60s, his opposition to a repressive regime in his own country led to his imprisonment in solitary confinement for nearly two years, an experience he reflects on in the memoir The Man Died and the verse collection A Shuttle in the Crypt.
His works in all genres deploy a rich poetic language, steeped in European mythology and the Yorùbá spiritual traditions of West Africa, interests he fused in his masterful study Myth, Literature and the African World. In 1986, he became the first African to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature.