Magazine / Briefly Noted

Briefly Noted Book Reviews

www.newyorker.com
3 min read
fairly difficult
"Chronicles from the Land of the Happiest People on Earth," by Wole Soyinka; "Savage Tongues," by Azareen Van Der Vliet Oloomi; "Three Girls from Bronzeville," by Dawn Turner; and "Home, Land, Security," by Carla Power.
Chronicles from the Land of the Happiest People on Earth, by Wole Soyinka (Pantheon). The Nobel Prize-winning playwright's first novel in half a century is a riotous satire set in a thinly fictionalized Nigeria, where a "National Board of Happiness," comprising the media, the government, and organized religion, distracts the public from rampant corruption by bestowing titles of rococo dubiousness ("People's Steward," "Yeomen of the Year"). A celebrated surgeon and his engineer friend uncover a black market for human body parts which implicates the highest rungs of society. With caustic wit, Soyinka's carnivalesque depictions of venality ferret out hypocrisy from behind its elaborate guises and condemn crimes that challenge "the collective notion of soul."

Savage Tongues, by Azareen Van Der Vliet Oloomi (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt). In this cerebral novel, an Iranian British writer raised partly in Spain returns to the apartment in Andalusia where, at seventeen, she spent a summer with a much older man, who was…
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