Yoruba Boy Running: A Novel (Hardcover)

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“A true artist. A brilliant writer. An original thinker.”—Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

A captivating, fictionalized retelling of African linguist and clergyman Samuel Ajayi Crowther's miraculous journey from slave to liberator.

“Run, Àjàyí, run!”

When Malian slave traders invaded the Nigerian town of Òsogùn, thirteen-year-old Àjàyí's life is split in two.

Before, there was his childhood, surrounded by friends and family, watched over by the ancient Yorùbá gods of forest and water, earth and sky.

After, there was capture, slavery—and eventually release—with Àjàyí, left transfigured, unrecognizable, and now, inthe service of a new god, with a new name and a culture different from the one left far behind. Àjàyí becomes Samuel Crowther—missionary, linguist, minister, and eventually abolitionist, driven to negotiate against his own people to end the evil trade in human beings which destroyed his family and transformed his own life.

Drawing on the prolific writings of Samuel Ajayi Crowther, novelist and filmmaker Biyi Bándélé creates a many-voiced, kaleidoscopic portrait of an extraordinary man. From the heart-stopping drama of Àjàyí's last day of freedom to the farcical intrigue of the Òsogùn court; from a meeting with Queen Victoria to consecration as the first African Bishop of the Anglican Church, Samuel Ajayi Crowther’s journey, like all great odysseys, circles back to where he began. By turns witty, moving and revolutionary, Biyi Bándélé's reimagining of Crowther's life is a brilliant tour de force.

About the Author


Biyi Bandele (1967–2022) was a pioneering novelist, playwright and film-maker. Born in Northern Nigeria to a veteran of the Burma campaign, winning a British theatre award brought him to London at age 22, where he published his first two novels and went onto write and direct many acclaimed plays, novels and feature films in the UK and Nigeria. The Independent named him one of Africa’s Fifty Greatest Artists.

Praise For…


"Biyi was a unique, all-responsive talent . . . The more he achieved, the further he aimed" — Wole Soyinka

"I always had huge respect for [Biyi's] prolific, super-talented and fearless creativity" — Bernardine Evaristo

"Passionately committed to every venture, Biyi displayed great urgency in all his productivity. He was a beguiling mix of daring and reticence, self-confidence and humility, with bravely ambitious dreams" — Margaret Busby, Guardian (UK)

"[Biyi Bándélé's novels] are rewarding reading, capable of wild surrealism and wit, as well as political engagement, as is all his writing" — Independent (UK)

"Biyi Bandele was a titan, who did the heavy lifting and laid the foundations many British Nigerian writers & theatre makers walk on" — Inua Ellams

"Bandele, who is without doubt one of Africa's finest creative minds, built an extensive career across various creative spaces, achieving success in literature and film" — Brittle Paper

"Just when you think you know all the African slave heroes–those superhumans who were abducted and sold, only to rise above their condition and give back to the societies that sold or enslaved them–you meet Ajayi Crowther. Yoruba Boy Running, Biyi Bandele’s final gift to world literature, is as important and as riveting as it is generous, raising Ajayi Crowther to a place beside Equiano Olaudah, Fredrick Douglas and Phyllis Wheatley" — Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi



Product Details
ISBN: 9780063417083
ISBN-10: 0063417081
Publisher: Harper
Publication Date: September 3rd, 2024
Pages: 288
Language: English