What is a brief summary of the novel The Interpreters by Soyinka?

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seaofknowledge | (Level 2) Assistant Educator

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Soyinka's The Interpreters is a series of events and scenes following the experiences of young Nigerian intellectuals who have returned to the country after independence. In a way, they are Nigeria's lost generation, struggling to find their way in Lagos of a new Nigeria. The new Nigeria is in fact still forming and the characters are forced to face situations in which they also have to decide which they prefer—the old Nigerian system, or a new one.

The boys have been educated abroad and the types of events they come across after their return to Nigeria tests them and teaches them in different ways. They are able to compare different values and structures. For example, Egbo experiences the struggle directly in which he is given two options. He can continue the way of his ancestors by returning to his home and following tribal rules or can adapt and maintain a modern way of life in the new Nigeria.

Another part of the book is about Sagoe and his very interesting experiences. The author also delves into spirituality, religion and mysticism in Nigerian society. Through their experiences, the boys learn not only more about their culture, but also the downsides of the Nigerian system such as corruption.

Although the major characters of the book are intellectuals, they do have differing personalities and responses to situations. While some of them can be rash and respond negatively at times, others like Bandele are calm, and work to resolve problems and keep people together. In a way, the main characters themselves reflect the wide range of personalities and characters in Nigerian society itself.

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