Book Review: The Palmwine Drinkard

Author: Amos Tutuola
“The Palmwine Drinkard” by Amos Tutuola is a mesmerizing and surreal journey through the realms of African folklore. The story follows the remarkable adventures of the unnamed protagonist, referred to as the Palmwine Drinkard, as he embarks on a quest to find his lost palmwine tapster.
The tale begins with the Palmwine Drinkard narrating his life as a devoted drinker of palmwine. He discovers that his tapster, known as “Sobalu,” has disappeared, leaving him without his beloved drink. Determined to find Sobalu and regain his source of pleasure, the Palmwine Drinkard sets off on a quest that takes him into a world of enchantment and mystery.
In his search, the Palmwine Drinkard encounters a wide array of mythical and supernatural beings. These include gods, spirits, witches, and talking animals. Along the way, he faces numerous challenges and undergoes transformative experiences that test his courage and resilience.
During his journey, the Palmwine Drinkard crosses paths with characters such as the Skull, who possesses a magical whip, and the “Complete Gentleman,” a creature that can transform into various objects. He engages in battles with spirits and engages in conversations with creatures that possess unique abilities and wisdom.
In the middle of the story, the Palmwine Drinkard arrives in Dead’s Town, a surreal and haunting realm inhabited by deceased beings. Here, he encounters his deceased father and engages in a battle with the King of Dead’s Town, aiming to rescue his tapster from captivity.
As the story nears its climax, the Palmwine Drinkard successfully overcomes numerous trials and learns valuable lessons along the way. With the aid of supernatural allies and his own resourcefulness, he ultimately frees Sobalu and obtains the secret of eternal life.
In the end, the Palmwine Drinkard returns to his village as a transformed individual, armed with newfound wisdom and a deeper understanding of life. The story concludes with the Palmwine Drinkard sharing his remarkable experiences with the villagers and becoming a revered figure in his community.
“The Palmwine Drinkard” is a captivating blend of mythical folklore and magical realism, showcasing the richness of African storytelling traditions. Tutuola’s vivid and poetic narrative style brings to life a world teeming with imagination, supernatural encounters, and thought-provoking themes.

1 thought on “Book Review: The Palmwine Drinkard”

  1. The Palmwine Drinkard’s Review is fascinating to me because of its depiction of the interconnectivity of reality and myths on the Nigerian socio-political cum cultural terrains. Much moreso, the recurring themes dovetail to the book, From Third World to First World, reviewed by Professor Iniobong.

    These two reviews add muster to my current investigations on the roles communicating Nigeria’s Governing Myths by the Nigerian leadership could feature in nation building.

    The Palmwine Drinkard’s book and the review specifically spotlight themes of challenges in every meaningful and visionary ventures. The reviews showcase persistence, consistency, purposefulness, temptations, distractions, and determination, as sine qua non to achieving desired outcomes.

    It is more than impressive and instructive that both reviews hammered on life’s transforming themes in visionary leaders of real, mythical, mysterious, and magical characters. While the writer of From Third to First World is real, the characters in the Palmwine Drinkard’s arefictional. Both characters exhibit imaginative qualities to solving human problems.

    As I write in the introduction to my work on Communications and Governing Myths, the power in myths lie in narrative fidelity, coherence, probability that it could be my story, reasonableness and rationality. These stories, whether fictional or factual, are human stories; and are most relevant to mobilizing and motivating peoples to act and do.

    Stimulating and insightful review. Mind- stretching and most coincidental.


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