Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Dying for art's sake

Richard North Patterson, prolific writer of thrillers, has written a novel based on the wrongful conviction and execution of Nigerian writer and activist Ken Saro-Wiwa.

Mr. Saro-Wiwa, a popular author who helped create a peaceful mass movement on behalf of the Ogoni people, was executed in November 1995 along with eight other environmental and human rights activists on what many contended were trumped-up murder charges. His body was burned with acid and thrown in an unmarked grave.

. . .

Fourteen years have passed. General Abacha has died, and Mr. Saro-Wiwa has had a proper burial, but the circumstances surrounding the nine executions, along with related incidents of brutal attacks and torture, are getting another hearing. This month the Wiwa family’s lawsuit against Royal Dutch Shell over its role in those events goes to trial in federal court in Manhattan.

Fiction International's recent theme, The Artist in Wartime, asked artists to write about war and other opressive acts of tyrants. Mr. Saro-Wiwa died because his writings provoked the ultimate in corporate/polifical tyranny. Can you, as an artist, be as brave?

Watch an interview of Richard North Patterson as he describes how he chose Mr. Saro-Wiwa as a subject for Eclipse. Oh, and enjoy the Chevron commercial that begins the Patterson interview.

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