Chigozie Obioma and the Books That Made Him. September 4, 2019 – Posted in: Literary Lifestyle – Tags: Chigozie Obioma, Nigeria, The Guardian
I’m not sure I have written the book I’d most like to be remembered for yet, though I suspect and hope that my latest, An Orchestra of Minorities, will endure.
Chigozie Obioma as we all know, is one of Nigeria’s finest writers. He is an assistant professor of Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. In 2015, he was named one of “100 Global Thinkers” by Foreign Policy magazine.
His first novel, The Fishermen received several awards and is being translated into 27 languages. His debut novel, An Orchestra of Minorities is on the shortlist of the 2019 Booker prize and also on the shortlist of Kulturhuset’s Best Translated Fiction in Sweden. An Orchestra of Minorities has also been shortlisted for the Digital Book World Awards 2019.
He was recently interviewed by THE GUARDIAN and in the interview, he talked about his current read, the book he wish he had written, the book he couldn’t finish amongst many other bookish talks.
On the book that changed his life, he said;
Changing one’s life is asking for too much of art, and something we writers often make ourselves believe because it adds the feeling of concrete utility to our trade. I’d say books don’t have to change people’s lives as much as touch something in them. Amos Tutuola’s The Palm-Wine Drinkard was probably that book.
On the book that had the greatest influence on him;
Hard to pinpoint any one book, really. But if it came to the book one has read more than any other, it will obviously be the King James Bible – having grown up in and around Christian communities.
On the book that changed his mind;
Will Durant’s The Story of Civilization. It tells the story of the west, the reason for where it is today, and the foundational flaws that – as we are now seeing – threatens its stability.
On his earliest reading memory;
I read mostly the books on my parents’ shelf, books from the western canon and Greek myth. There was a lot of Shakespeare – Macbeth and As You Like It, for example. But my strongest recollection is reading Homer’s the Odyssey in my secondary school library. Because it was in the reference section, I could not borrow it. So every day, during the one-hour break, I would rush to the library, head to the reference room and read it. The librarians often left the page unturned so I could continue from where I stopped. It took about three months to finish.