Syl Cheney-Coker

Syl Cheney-Coker was born in Freetown, Sierra Leone, and is the author of five volumes of poetry, a collection of essays, and the novel The Last Harmattan of Alusine Dunbar, which won the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize (Africa) and was named one of the “20th century’s 100 best Africa books.”

In 2000, Cheney-Coker was appointed the first writer-in-residence in the United States by The International Parliament of Writers, under its Cities of Refuge program. He has held other writer-in-residency positions and taught at universities in Africa, Asia, and the United States. He now divides his time between the United States and Sierra Leone.

Listed in: African Literature

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The reincarnation of a legendary nineteenth-century Caribbean emperor as a contemporary African leader is at the heart of this novel. Sacred River deals with the extraordinary lives, hopes, powerful myths, stories, and tragedies of the people of a modern West African nation. It is also the compelling love story of an idealistic philosophy professor and an ex-courtesan of incomparable beauty.

Sacred River is a novel of epic proportions powered by a microscopic gaze and magisterial sweep. Told with pain and passion, withering wit and satiric humor, this is a tale of these and other times: thronged, sensuous, cerebral, and visionary in the most unpredictable ways. There is magic in the telling, a magic wrought from the myths and legends of the African world, and facts which belie the strangest fiction. Sacred River reads like a magnificent poem with multiple chapters. A truly virtuoso achievement.”

Niyi Osundare, award-winning poet and distinguished professor of English, University of New Orleans