Announcing the award in Stockholm, the Swedish Academy cited [Wole Soyinka] as a writer "who in a wide cultural perspective and with poetic overtones fashions the drama of existence." The academy said that Soyinka "possesses a prolific store of words and expressions which he exploits to the full in witty dialogue, in satire and grotesquery, in quiet poetry and essays of sparkling vitality."
The first play, which leans heavily on Yoruba mythology, was written when Soyinka was in his 20s and was performed in Lagos in 1960 as part of the Nigerian independence celebrations. The second play will be produced at Lincoln Center in New York early next year, and Soyinka recently visited New York to supervise auditions for the production.
In Africa, Soyinka has long been recognized as one of the continent's finest writers. In the heady days just after independence, many young Nigerian writers were published by British publishing houses, creating so many novels and plays that critics began worrying about a steady fall of standards. Yet Soyinka, going his own way, nourished on his own culture, yet looking at modern Nigeria with a deft and satiric style, always loomed above the others.