[VIRTUAL] PEN Out Loud x LIVE from NYPL: Wole Soyinka with Farah Jasmine Griffin

Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka joins PEN Out Loud and LIVE from NYPL to celebrate his first novel in nearly 50 years, Chronicles From the Land of the Happiest People on Earth. Set in an imaginary Nigeria, the novel is a “fictional meditation on how power and greed can corrupt the soul of a nation.” Soyinka will be joined in conversation with writer, scholar, and inaugural Chair of the African American and African Diaspora Studies Department at Columbia University Farah Jasmine Griffin to discuss the book’s interrogation of political and social corruption.

This digital event will start at 7:30pm ET / 4:30pm PT. This is a free event.

Presented in partnership with The New York Public Library’s LIVE from NYPL.

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Presented in collaboration with Strand Book Store and Scripps Presents.

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Purchase a copy of Chronicles From the Land of the Happiest People on Earth »

Wole Soyinka headshotWole Soyinka was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1986. Born in Abeokuta, Nigeria in 1934, he is an author, playwright, poet, and political activist whose prolific body of work includes The Interpreters, his debut novel that was published in 1965, and Death and the King’s Horseman, a play that was first performed in 1976. Soyinka was twice jailed in Nigeria for his criticism of the Nigerian government, and he destroyed his U.S. Green Card in 2016 when Donald Trump was elected president of the United States. Photo Credit: Glen Gratty

Farah Jasmine Griffin headshotFarah Jasmine Griffin is the William B. Ransford Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University, where she also served as the inaugural Chair of the African American and African Diaspora Studies Department. She is a 2021 Guggenheim Fellow and an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Scholar-in-Residence. Professor Griffin received her BA in history & literature from Harvard University and her Ph.D. in American studies from Yale University. She is the author or editor of eight books, including Who Set You Flowin?: The African American Migration Narrative (Oxford University Press, 1995), If You Can’t Be Free, Be a Mystery: In Search of Billie Holiday (Free Press, 2001), and Harlem Nocturne: Women Artists and Progressive Politics During World War II (Basic Books, 2013). Griffin collaborated with composer/pianist Geri Allen and director/actor S. Epatha Merkerson on two theatrical projects, Great Jazz Women of the Apollo (2013) and A Conversation with Mary Lou (2014), for which she wrote the book . The first theatrical project, “Geri Allen and Friends Celebrate the Great Jazz Women of the Apollo”—with Lizz Wright, Dianne Reeves, Terri Lyne Carrington and others—premiered on the main stage of the Apollo Theater in May 2013. The second project, “A Conversation with Mary Lou”—featuring vocalist Carmen Lundy—premiered at Harlem Stage in March 2014 and was performed at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in May 2016. Her most recent book is Read Until You Understand: The Profound Wisdom of Black Life and Literature (W. W. Norton & Company, 2021).

About Strand Book Store

Located on 12th and Broadway in New York City, the Strand Book Store is a family-owned, iconic literary destination with more than 90 years of history and 18 miles of books to prove it. Its events feature some of today’s most interesting and provocative authors. Its unparalleled inventory of 2.5 million new, used, and rare books and locally designed totes, gifts, and apparel makes it easy and exciting to get lost in the stacks.

About Scripps Presents

Scripps Presents is an electrifying mix of storytellers and artists, policymakers and musicians—and everything in between. Based at Scripps College, Scripps Presents provides a forum the Claremont Colleges and audiences across Southern California to engage with eye-opening, mind-bending, genre-defying tête-à-têtes with the thinkers and doers, writers and performers, whose passions and perspectives are changing the way we see the world.

About LIVE from NYPL

LIVE from NYPL brings distinguished writers, artists, and scholars to the stage for conversations and performances.


This program is made possible in part by a grant from the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs.

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