The Palm-wine Drinkard

The Palm-Wine Drinkard: A Journey into the African Folklore

The Palm-Wine Drinkard: A Journey into the African Folklore

The Palm-Wine Drinkard is a novel by the Nigerian author Amos Tutuola, published in 1952. It is the first African novel written in English to gain international recognition and acclaim. The novel is based on Yoruba folktales and tells the story of a man who is addicted to palm wine, a traditional alcoholic beverage made from the sap of the palm tree. When his palm-wine tapster, the person who makes the wine for him, dies, he decides to follow him to the land of the dead, where he encounters many strange and magical creatures and adventures.

The novel is written in a simple and unconventional style, using a modified form of English or Pidgin English that reflects the oral tradition of the Yoruba culture. The language is rich in imagery, metaphors, proverbs and repetitions, creating a unique and captivating voice. The novel also explores themes such as death, life, faith, identity, culture and colonialism, as well as the contrast between the traditional and the modern world.

The Palm-Wine Drinkard is a classic example of African literature that blends realism and fantasy, history and myth, humor and horror. It is a novel that celebrates the power of imagination and storytelling, as well as the diversity and richness of the African folklore.

The novel has received mixed reactions from critics and readers since its publication. Some praised it for its originality, creativity and authenticity, while others criticized it for its lack of sophistication, coherence and grammar. Some saw it as a masterpiece of African literature, while others dismissed it as a primitive and childish work. Some admired Tutuola for his courage and innovation, while others accused him of betraying his culture and language by writing in English.

Despite the controversy, the novel has influenced many writers and artists, both in Africa and beyond. It has been translated into more than a dozen languages and adapted into various forms of media, such as film, theater, music and comics. It has also inspired academic studies and literary analyses, as well as cultural and political debates. The novel has become a part of the global literary canon, as well as a symbol of the African cultural heritage.

The Palm-Wine Drinkard is a novel that challenges the conventional notions of literature and art, as well as the stereotypes and prejudices about Africa and its people. It is a novel that invites the reader to enter a different world, where anything is possible and where the ordinary becomes extraordinary. It is a novel that celebrates the human spirit and its ability to overcome adversity and to create beauty out of chaos.

The Palm-Wine Drinkard is a novel that invites the reader to question their own assumptions and perspectives, as well as to appreciate the diversity and complexity of the human experience. It is a novel that challenges the reader to expand their imagination and to explore the unknown. It is a novel that offers the reader a glimpse into the African folklore, a rich and vibrant source of wisdom and inspiration.

The Palm-Wine Drinkard is more than just a novel. It is a journey, an adventure, a dream. It is a novel that can be enjoyed by anyone who loves stories and who is willing to suspend their disbelief and to embrace the wonder and the mystery of life.


  • Tutuola, Amos. The Palm-Wine Drinkard. Faber and Faber, 1952.
  • Lindfors, Bernth, editor. Critical Perspectives on Amos Tutuola. Three Continents Press, 1975.
  • Owomoyela, Oyekan. The African Difference: Discourses on Africanity and the Relativity of Cultures. Peter Lang, 1996.
  • Quayson, Ato. Postcolonialism: Theory, Practice or Process? Polity Press, 2000.
  • Wright, Derek. The Novels of Amos Tutuola. Heinemann Educational Books, 1983.

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