D. O. Fagunwa’s Forest of a Thousand Daemons was first published in 1938; it marks the first full-length novel published in Yoruba and has become a classic work of African literature. The delightfully rich translation is by the Nobel laureate, Wole Soyinka and is published by City Lights Books.
The book concerns the life of the brave hunter, Akara-Ogun, whose encounters with spirits, bog-trolls and other supernatural creatures are related orally with great flair for an enraptured audience which grows bigger with each night’s telling, and an author who takes down the hunter’s words that they might provide a record of his days upon this earth.
The book stands at a crossroads between oral and written culture, between Christianity and traditional Yoruba beliefs, and takes place in a world in which the boundary between the natural and the supernatural is a distinctly porous one. To open its covers is to witness this complex metamorphosis taking place.
Over the course of the programme, we discuss the choices Wole Soyinka makes in his translation, religious syncretism, and the strong emphasis the book places on the body.
‘Compound of Spells: The Predicament of D. O. Fagunwa’ by Olakunle George in Research in African Literatures, Vol. 28, No. 1, The Oral-Written Interface (Spring, 1997), pp. 78-97 (Indiana University Press)
An interview with Anthony Olajide Fayemi: https://www.thenewsnigeria.com.ng/2014/05/hidden-facts-about-fagunwa/