Every week, the editors of The Paris Review lift the paywall on a selection of interviews, stories, poems, and more from the magazine’s archive. You can have these unlocked pieces delivered straight to your inbox every Sunday by signing up for the Redux newsletter.
This week, we’re highlighting work by Nigerian writers in the archive and the current issue. Read on for Chinua Achebe’s Art of Fiction interview, Eloghosa Osunde’s short story “Good Boy,” and Wole Soyinka’s poem “Your Logic Frightens Me Mandela.”
If you enjoy these free interviews, stories, and poems, why not subscribe to The Paris Review? Or take advantage of our new subscription bundle, bringing you four issues of the print magazine, access to our full sixty-seven-year digital archive, and our new TriBeCa tote for only $69 (plus free shipping!). And for as long as we’re flattening the curve, The Paris Review will be sending out a new weekly newsletter, The Art of Distance, featuring unlocked archival selections, dispatches from the Daily, and efforts from our peer organizations. Read the latest edition here, and then sign up for more.
Chinua Achebe, The Art of Fiction No. 139
Issue no. 133, Winter 1994
How much do you think writers should engage themselves in public issues?
I don’t lay down the law for anybody else. But I think writers are not only writers, they are also citizens. They are generally adults. My position is that serious and good art has always existed to help, to serve, humanity. Not to indict. I don’t see how art can be called art if its purpose is to frustrate humanity. To make humanity uncomfortable, yes. But intrinsically to be against humanity, that I don’t take.
By Eloghosa Osunde
Issue no. 234, Fall 2020
Start here: I’m not inspiring. When I first moved to Lagos, I didn’t come here with good mind. I came here with one mission and one mission only: to get a lot of money, so as to prove my popsy wrong. That’s all. For me, blood family doesn’t mean shit. Family is your spine dividing into four, hot metal in your back, red life shooting out of you in a geyser. It’s you falling forward in slow motion, a yelp in your neck, whole outfit ruined in the air. You, reading this, you’re here, alive, because your parents synced and you showed up. That’s it. Even if they planned for a child, it was still a raffle draw. A hand went in a bowl and picked you. The tree shook and a fruit fell down.
Your Logic Frightens Me Mandela
By Wole Soyinka
Issue no. 107, Summer 1988
Your logic frightens me, Mandela,
Your logic frightens me. Those years
Of dreams, of time accelerated in
Visionary hopes, of savouring the task anew,
The call, the tempo primed
To burst in supernovae round a “brave new world”!
Then stillness. Silence. The world closes round
Your sole reality; the rest is… dreams?
Your logic frightens me.
How coldly you disdain legerdemains!
“Open Sesame” and—two decades’ rust on hinges
Peels at touch of a conjurer’s wand?
White magic, ivory-topped black magic wand,
One moment wand, one moment riot club
Electric cattle prod and club or sjambok
Tearing flesh and spilling blood and brain?
This bag of tricks, whose silk streamers
Turn knotted cords to crush dark temples?
A rabbit punch sneaked beneath the rabbit?
Doves metamorphosed in milk-white talons?
Not for you the olive branch that sprouts
Gun muzzles, barbed-wire garlands, tangled thorns
To wreathe the brows of black, unwilling christs.
Your patience grows inhuman, Mandela …
And to read more from the Paris Review archives, make sure to subscribe! In addition to four print issues per year, you’ll also receive complete digital access to our sixty-seven years’ worth of archives. Or take advantage of our new subscription bundle, bringing you four issues of the print magazine, access to our full sixty-seven-year digital archive, and our new TriBeCa tote for only $69 (plus free shipping!).