[NIGERIAN LITERATURE] TUTUOLA, Amos (author). My Life In The Bush of Ghosts. New York City; Grove Press. 1954.
8vo. Original scarlet cloth panelled in gilt to spine, in decorative dustwrapper designed by Roy Kuhlman; pp. [vi], 7-174; a fine copy, both externally and internally, without inscription, protected by a near fine, unclipped dustwrapper ($3.50) with minor compression at head of spine, light dusting and tiny marking to lower advertisement panel and minimal rubbing to forecorner tips.
First edition. The Yoruba-Christian writer Amos Tutuola (1920-1997) was the first Nigerian author to achieve international fame with his first and most famous book The Palm Wine Drunkard which he wrote in 1945. In 1952 that work was acquired by T.S. Eliot and published by Faber and Faber in London. It was later translated into several languages including into French by Raymond Queneau. Written in what was to become his characteristic atypical English, which was dismissed by his compatriots as a broken, backward, and primitive style, the book weaves Yoruba folklore with modern life. Its quest motif tells the tale of a young boy escaping from slave traders who finds himself in the Bush of Ghosts. It is hallucinogenic in atmosphere and a very vivid, violent, and startling presentation of traditional mythology and religion.
Tutuloa was born to a cacao farmer and his third wife in a small village outside Abeokuta in Nigeria and received a very abbreviated education. While working as a servant boy he was sent to the local Salvation Army primary school in lieu of wages. He later trained as a blacksmith and worked for the Royal Fair Force in Nigeria in World War II. The Palm Wine Drunkard was the product of only a few days work. It was championed by the poet Dylan Thomas who called in "brief, thronged, grisly and bewitching" and was widely praised in the United States and the United Kingdom. My Life In The Bush of Ghosts was Tutuola's second novel and one of his eleven works. It was reviewed enthusiastically by V.A. Pritchett in New Statesman, "Tutuola … has the immediate intuition of a creative artist working by spell and incantation."