Associate 2014-15

David Wright


Wright imageAll the Best Things Thus (a novel)

Professor Wright is writing a novel that recovers the story of Adandozan, the forgotten King of Dahomey. The work builds on his recently completed novel, All the Best Things Thus, in which Adandozan plays a secondary role, to explore the complicated and complicitous role that Africans played in the trans-Atlantic slave trade.

For more than 200 years, the kings of Dahomey (now Benin) ruled over the stretch of West Africa known as the Slave Coast for the quantity of human chattel originating from the region. But in the Age of Revolution, anticipating the eventual end of slavery, King Adandozan attempted to shift the Dahomeyan economy toward what he saw as the more stable product of palm oil.
The attempt proved his undoing.

In 1818, Adandozan was unseated by his brother Guézo in a coup. Instead of killing the deposed king or selling him into slavery, Guézo exiled Adandozan to an isolated section of the palace and told the people his predecessor was insane. Adandozan’s emblem was unstitched from the royal tapestry, and Guézo directed that his name never be spoken aloud again – which, in this oral culture, effectively removed Adandozan’s memory from history.

Professor Wright has traveled to the region to conduct research and to deepen his understanding of the local Yoruba and Fon cultures. Experiencing the specific geography, interacting with local people, and witnessing traditional ceremonies will inform how he imagines the characters and will direct how he proceeds with his writing. During his Center appointment, Professor Wright intends to organize and study his collected research and construct a good first draft.