Sunday, June 28, 2009

A Good Book Is Priceless: EC Osondu

Three adjectives that best describe you

This is little hard for me. The question, I mean, puts you in a hard place. I have a tendency to ramble but I also adore precision I don’t know if that makes me quirky. I like contrariness, sometimes for the sheer heck of it.

Which talent would you most like to have?
The ability to play a musical instrument. I have this fantasy in which I walk up to the stage and casually take the saxophone from say Fela or Miles, cut to this reaction shot of the audience sneeringly wondering what this upstart could possibly be up to and then I begin to play and they start to applaud.

Why did you write ‘Jimmy Carter’s Eyes?’
The story was written in response to the phrase-The road to hell is paved with good intentions, good intentions here referring to the sometimes misguided dogoodism- for lack of a better phrase- of Western charities and of course the universality of such human impulses as greed and selfishness.

What is the last thing you read that made you laugh?
A couple of aphorisms make me chuckle each time they come to mind:
  • A man shouldn’t be angry with the sun because it failed to light his cigar
  • Anyone who insists on calling a spade, a spade should be made to use one.
  • There is only good writing and bad writing, there is no such thing as Christian writing, after all, there is no Christian way to boil an egg.
Who is your perfect audience?
A well read audience.

What is the worth of a book?
I am sure you mean a good book-priceless of course.

When is the best time for you to write ?
Any time is a good time. I e-mail my work in progress to myself so I can access it at any time and everywhere.

Name your five favourite books and why?
This is like asking me to step into the same river twice-impossible. I fall in and out of love with books all the time. There are a few writers that I return to often and again:
  • James Baldwin’s collected essays for their candence, humor and Old testament- like rhythm
  • Ben Okri’s short stories for their magic, musicality and almost perfect exquisite charm
  • Jose Saramago’s Blindness for its parabolic and fabular wisdom
  • Cormac McCarthy’s The Road for its pessimistic optimism and its cautionary tale quality
  • And of course VS Naipaul’s essays for his unflinching and unafraid gaze.
What is your most treasured possession?
Ah I’m not gonna reveal that one o, make dem no thief am

About nominations and awards
They are good insofar and they make you realize that the world is paying attention. But the work is the thing really.

What is your advice to young writers?
Keep reading and keep writing. Easy, right?

What books are currently on your bedside table?
Books are scattered everywhere in my house including a bunch piled around the commode. Here are a few in no order-The Yacoubian Building, The Price of the Ticket, Fugitive Pieces, The Penguin Anthology of Contemporary African Writing and The Braindead Megaphone by George Saunders.

Best decision in writing career
Going to Syracuse University for graduate studies in creative writing.

Greatest challenge
Leaving meaningful marks on the blank page.

Your first words when you made the Caine shortlist...
Actually, a friend heard the news first and congratulated me on my wall on Facebook, so I was like O’l boy you sure abi is this a hoax? I was excited of course .

What would a story about your life be called?
Look and laff to paraphrase Fela that inimitable wit and chronicler of the Blackman’s condition.

What is your greatest fear?
I wake up one day and discover inspiration has fled never to return

If you could make a wish right now, what would it be?
To close my eyes and by the time I open them I’m in Nigeria. To suddenly have the ability to speak the foreign language of any person I meet, now that’ll be so cool.

What is the first piece you wrote and when?
I started out as a poet and you don’t even want to see my early pieces, quite frankly they were cringe-worthy and just talking about them now fills me with fear and loathing.

Education or experience: which is more important to a writer?
Get some educative experience but also experience some education.

How will you introduce your child to reading?
Read that which interests you and when s/he develops a love for reading, they’ll read everything.

How do you overcome writer’s block?
I wish I knew how. I think the same way you overcome a hangover-biting the hair of the dog that bit you. Simply attack the page even if you end up writing crap it makes way for all that good stuff to come later.

How do you relax?
This question presupposes that I work a lot and that I need to create a special time to relax which is not the case. I relax so much that I think the question should be when do you find time from your life of relaxation to do some work?

What is your philosophy of life?
To be a good man, and a good writer. By the way I borrowed that from Hemingway.

EC Osondu has made the shortlist for the Caine Prize twice (2007&2009). As we await the announcement of the winner on Sunday, July 6, 2009, we pray he hits the bull's eye this time around. We wish him all the best!

Friday, June 26, 2009

The Blogging World Of Fashion

Fashion Bloganistas, Where Art Thou?

Where are all the true true Fashionistas that walk the walk, talk the talk and blog the blog? Please tell me where I can get a daily if possible a 3 square balanced meal of all things fashion from a fun but intelligent perspective with some snack catwalk goss in between? If only wishes were horse in Naija-Blogaria! We will get there, YES WE CAN!

Ok now that we’ve passed the Obama Intro or is it the JENIFA mini skit that’s reigning now? Anyways moving on, it is not really as bad as I have put it. When I started doing research for this piece, I had already started looking for blogs about fashion because I think I caught the fashionpreneurial Bug-I’m actually on my way to becoming a world class fashion designer courtesy of House of Henri Fashion and Art Academy, many a magazine a pull out that I pore over weekly, presenting on television (you gotta look the part even if you’re talking about the weather) and now a budding fashion writer (check me out in ThisDay Style, TW Magazine and more to come), so WATCH THIS SPACE!

You have to give it up for J’adore who rightly clinched the prize in the Naija Bloggers Award for the best fashion blog. She knows the real Coco not the one we drink or D Banj’s, she is on top and on par with the West and whenever I need some help with all the fashion grammar, I know where to go. I love how she lives out what she preaches-FASHION. Whether she features in the pictures or not, you cannot leave without being inspired to up your game…dressing wise. Recently, she does a throwback on cropped tops and reminisces on how she wore them in her high school days to parties in the coal town-Enugu.

Haute Africa is a website with a blog which is regularly updated depending on what’s going on (Naija weekend events are very popular here). So you know where to go and sometimes there are some fashion nuggets from around the world. The Haute blog has the latest from this year’s ARISE African Fashion Week 2009, very cool pictures. The website also hosts tabs for Art, Designers, Art, Events, Features, Haute Spots, Haute Tv, Models, People & Tributes, Street Stylin’ and Discuss (for the interactive forum). Well done Wadami for still finding time to manage the site as well as her round-the-clock job as the Ediatrix of Hi Magazine.

Read the rest here. The website is very insightful and regularly provides general overview reviews of the blogging scene albeit the Nigerian ones. So even if fashion is not your thing you can check out the literary reviews like 'We Write' and 'Literature Is A Minority Affair'.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009



Reading has suddenly become unfashionable and the seeming financial reward and fame in comparison to the glamour burden entertainment industry is helping to make it less fashionable! This realization and preempted future consequences prompted the Editorial Board Community Development Club of the National Youth Service Corps Scheme, Kaduna State to organize a reading campaign aimed at reversing the downslide in reading among young people.

The Editorial Board is a Community Development Group registered within the ambits of what the NYSC represents. Over the years, the Editorial Board with the help of corporate bodies and general public, has continually been at the forefront of Community Development through innovative projects and selfless service.

To further add value to the event which held on the 3rd of June, 2009, Onyeka Nwelue, author of The Abyssinian Boy was around. The event was in two stages: the first at Command Secondary School, Sabo, Kaduna South and the second at the Faculty of Arts, Kaduna State University. The author, at these events, read from his book, interacted with the audience and also presented a paper titled - Regenerating the polemics of reading culture in Nigeria at the university.

Onyeka Nwelue was born in 1988. He won the Thompson short stories competition when he was eleven. In 2004, he was described in the Guardian Newspaper as the ‘teenager with the steaming pen’. He received a grant from the Institute for Research on African Women, Children and Culture (IRAWCC) in 2008 and has been selected as Writer-in -Residence for the month of July by the Centre for Contemporary Art (CCA), Lagos. His debut The Abyssinian Boy was published this year and is being made into a movie by Danish film maker Lasse Lau together with Nigeria’s Tunde Kelani.

At the Command Secondary school venue of the literary and current affairs quiz competition, seven schools competed. The competition saw Queen Amina College emerge 1st , Royal International college was 1st runners up and Christ ambassador’s college was 2nd runners up. Other schools that participated are Oxford International School; Government Secondary School, Kakuri; Danbo International College; Command Secondary School, Sabo and Rimi College, Ungwarimi, who had their students come as observers. Questions for the literary segment was pulled from The Last Duty by Isidore Okpewho, The Joys of Motherhood by Buchi Emecheta, Sizwe Bansi is Dead by Athol Fugard, On His Blindness (Poetry) by John Milton and contemporary Yellow Yellow by Kaine Agary.

Books worth N50,000 were shared among the participating schools. The book gifts were donations of literary materials by Destiny Bookshops, Kaduna; El-nukoya, award winning author of Nine Lives; Kaine Agary, the NLNG award-winning author of Yellow Yellow; Macmillian Publishers, Zaria; Dada Books, African First Publishers and the Nigerian Stock Exchange, Kaduna Branch whose donation of cash and financial literary materials helped to swell the programme.

The Kaduna State Library Board was at the event represented by Alhaji IbrahimBuba.The Dean of Students’ Affairs, Mr. Audee T. Giwa was at hand to join cause with the Editorial club team. Also apresent was Mrs. Ogwuche Victoria, the staff adviser of the editorial board who challenged the ladies to pick up reading as a pastime and also encourage their siblings to do same.

At the university, Onyeka presenting his paper submitted ‘I could be weird at times. Once in my university, a lecturer had asked us, the students, to Google up a topic, copy, paste it on MS Word, print, write our names on them and pass for assignment. (Hilarious, isn't it?) I was instantly taken aback. But what can one do in such a lousy situation? The truth is that we can only save Nigeria through extensive research.’

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Naming Game: Who are your Favourite Writers?

We believe on Bookaholic that one of the secrets to being a fantastic writer is to read about good writers (their works and interviews); we snooped out this one for you...

Pambazuka interviews Binyajavanga Wanaina, Kenyan founding editor of Kwani here; he talks about many things including his desire to start an online course in Creative Writing soon. When asked for five favourite authors, Binyavanga mentioned six:

  • Kojo Laing, writer of Search Sweet Country, the greatest novel to come out of Africa.
  • Saul Bellow – love his riff and sentences...
  • Ahmadou Kourouma, Waiting for the Wild Beasts to Vote, was a beautifully structured novel, and worked sooo well.
  • Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Half of a Yellow Sun, is a book of true commitment and love – I love many things about it, most of all I love the idea of somebody writing about Biafra, which happened after she was born. A huge task, fraught with risks, but she did it.
  • Chinua Achebe – I love all his work, feel very privileged to work with him at Bard College.
  • Witold Gombrowicz – love his absurd, dense books, with so many tiny human and natural transactions…
Who are your favourite writers? Let us know on Bookaholic...

When I Born, I Black

When I born, I black
When I grow up, I black
When I go in Sun, I black
When I scared, I black
When I sick, I black
And when I die, I still black

And you white fellow
When you born, you pink
When you grow up, you white
When you go in sun, you red
When you cold, you blue
When you scared, you yellow
When you sick, you green
And when you die, you grey

And you calling me coloured?

I found this poem sometime last week and that was my first time of reading it. Read on the internet that it was written by an African child and was nominated as the UN poem of the year for 2008.

There are so many beautiful things about this short and sweet poem, but quick question: is there anybody on earth that is white (as in White) or Black (totally black)?

Let us know what you think...

Friday, June 19, 2009

Nnenna Okore Art Exhibition

Where will you be on June 2oth, 2009?

Nnenna Okore, the talented and internationally acclaimed sculptor and installation artist, returns to Nigeria to hold her first major art exhibition beginning June 20th, 4pm, at the Goethe Institut in Lagos. After series of exhibitions at galleries in the US and the UK, the Assistant Professor of Art at North Park University, Chicago will bring her vibrant and constructive approach to sculptural and installation art to a keen Nigerian art audience. The exhibition will be opened by her former professor and mentor at the University of Nsukka and famed art sculptor in his own right El Anatsui.

Nnenna often uses materials found in urban environments. Her artworks reflect the way that natural and man-made materials evolve, decay and transform, while other pieces can take on the character and flowing shape of traditional woven cloths or elements of nature. She has received several awards and residencies worldwide, and has been exhibited in several prestigious galleries and museums around the world. The German Cultural center, the Goethe Institut are her hosts for this show presented by Kachifo Limited, publishers of Farafina Books.

The show runs at the Goethe Institut from June 20th until July 10th.

Nnenna can be found here; you can contact the organisers by sending an email to:

Opening Date: June 20th, 2009

Time: 4pm

Venue: Goethe Institut, Lagos

RSVP the event here.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Dynamic Dialogue Writers Competition

Dynamic dialogue invites submissions for its competition; there is a cash prize for winning entry and an opportunity to be published in their Verb ezine. Here are some of the rules:

  • Length may be up to 1,000 words. But not a word more.
  • Entries must be original and unpublished. Send only your best. Once submissions arrive, no revisions will be accepted.
  • Open to writers worldwide.
  • Unlimited. You may submit multiple stories.
  • The winning story will be published in the August ´09 issue of The VERB.
  • After the results have been announced, the remaining entrants will have the opportunity to receive a Contest Opinion at half price ($14).
Read more here.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Letter to a Young Writer...

Teju Cole is one writer that we respect a lot on Bookaholic; having read his book Everyday for the Thief, it is indeed not hard to follow his blog on NEXT. This week, he writes a witty and interesting letter to young writers; young now, not really in age but at the heart of your writing.

Read lessons, advice and important tips that will help you on this lonely writing journey here. Have fun while it lasts!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

GOI Foundation Essay Competition

2009 International Essay Contest for Young People

Theme: The role of science in building a better world. 

Scientific progress has brought many benefits to humanity, while some applications of science have had adverse impacts. What kind of science and technology do you think is needed for realizing a more equitable, prosperous and sustainable world for all? Please express your vision for the future of science, including examples of studies or researches you wish to engage in. (We would have preferred it to be the role of art or literature towards the realisation of a peaceful world)

  • Essays may be submitted by anyone up to 25 years old (as of June 30, 2009) in one of the following age categories:
  • Essays must be 800 words or less, typed or printed in English, French, Spanish or German
Deadline: Entries must be received by June 30, 2009.

Read more here.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

'Poor Citizens=Poor Reading Culture': Tolu Ogunlesi

When and why did you decide to become a writer?

I don’t know… I remember writing a novel – and actually finishing it – when I was twelve.

What is the secret to being a fine writer?
Wanting it so badly that nothing else appears good enough as an alternative. And sometimes, discovering that you are hopeless at every other thing helps.

Your first story published
My first real published story was titled 'Solemn Avenue', and it was published in the PEN Anthology of New Nigerian Writing (edited by Femi Osofisan, Remi Raji and Ronnie Uzoigwe) in 2003. Helon Habila’s “Prison Stories” inspired the story. But before then I had been writing loads of poetry.

Greatest achievement in writing career
Every bit of success, at the time of its attainment, insists on being the greatest. And that, I think is how it should be. When an email comes into my box telling me about a success (publication/competition), it doesn’t care about yesterday’s email, or tomorrow, bringing bigger news. All it does is ask me to rejoice, which I do.

Favourite writer of all time
I haven’t got any one favourite writer. Everyday I encounter new ones, each one loved for a unique reason

When is the best time for you to write?
Anytime… so long as I can quell the loud whisperings of all my procrastinating spirits

Which historical figure do you most identify with? 
King Solomon I think. He was a rich poet… which I wouldn’t mind being. Plus he wrote great love poetry. And his poetry outlived him.

Which talent would you most like to have? 
The ability to read people’s minds… or the patience to learn anything I’d love to be a master of.

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
Hopelessness… that state in which you look all around and all is silence and pitch darkness

What is your philosophy of life?
I don’t have any one philosophy, but if I had to say something, it’d be this: Life is Short, Art is Long, but No Long Thing (which I’d translate to mean: Work hard but never take yourself too seriously)

What is the hardest thing to write about?
Sometimes, everything can be equally hard to write about… the act of writing is in itself the hardest thing about writing. Which is why someone said: “Many people don’t want to write, they only want to have written…”

Who is your perfect reader?
A person who comes to a book with eagerness, curiosity and a wide open mind.

Who are your literary heroes?
Too many to mention. Seriously.

What is the last thing you read that made you laugh?
Brian Chikwava’s Harare North and Adaobi Nwaubani’s I do not come to you by chance. I love both books, and will be reviewing them.

What book changed your life?
One book? I’m afraid I haven’t yet read it. Books usually don’t have to change lives before they can be deemed successful… and of course books often have very different purposes; every book I’ve read has done something to me, in many cases you can’t tell until much later, months, years even… all the books I have ever encountered have changed my life in their own unique ways.

What is the strangest research you’ve done?
I haven’t really written on any strange topics yet… but I remember how agonizing it was to find out about the art of molue painting when I was working on a recent piece of mine… one lunch time saw me wandering around Obalende…

Have you ever imitated another writer’s style?
All the time. Okay, not all. But most of the time. You often can’t help it, what you read influences what and how you write, often unconsciously. Life as a writer is often about being at the mercy of a million competing voices in your head, offering possibilities on how and what to write about… what they call your voice or your style is a mélange of all these voices, whipped into shape by your own stubbornness and instinct…

How do you choose your characters?
I’ll go for the cliché – I don’t choose them, they choose me. And I say thank you for choosing me. What did you see in me that made you choose me?

What inspires your writing?
Everything… sights and sounds, visions and voices, dreams and doubts. A wall gecko in the morning bathtub is the father of an afternoon poem in the spiral-bound notebook.

What is the worth of a book?
Not the paper on which it is printed, not the recommended retail price. A book is worth the vision that inspired it and brought it to completion, it is worth all the time that went into it, worth all the crushing self-doubt that hammered it into shape…

Which of your works was the most challenging for you to write?
It doesn’t get any better, every one has been bloody challenging… a blank page doesn’t respect any credentials you shove in its face – at least in my case. Every time I have to start from the beginning.

What book would you give to someone who had time-travelled from another era, to paint a picture of the 21st century?
The internet – collected into a book

What sort of books would be your guilty pleasure?
In truth, no book should have to be a guilty pleasure. Some books are read to be struggled with, others to escape into… but I think that reading, like eating, should be a balanced diet, all classes should be represented on the diet. And with reading, unlike eating, junk is often permissible… so long as you have your notions of what is junk and what is not, and can defend them if you have to … I love to read biographies and autobiographies and business management books, and they are certainly not guilty pleasures…

Solution to poor reading culture in Nigeria
I’d hate to sound simplistic, but poor citizens is equal to poor reading culture. When people have to spend all their time making ends meet, what time – or money – do they have to read? The solution to what they call Nigeria’s poor reading culture is to increase the per-capita income… which increases disposable income. And of course, bring the public education system back to life again.

Five years on as a writer: what are your aspirations?
To have written and published a novel, and perhaps a full-length non-fiction book.

What does it mean to be a writer?
Hanif Kureishi defined it as “indolence, perversion, uselessness and hanging around.” I’ll let you know when I find a better definition. But in the meantime I’ll add “unexplained moments of pure, wild euphoria” to the list.

Tolu Ogunlesi is everywhere on the internet but can be found on his blog.

All bloggers are writers (well, in a way) but not all writers are bloggers; we are set to haunt out writers that blog. And guess what? You can suggest them to us...

Tolu was the first...hope you enjoyed this interview; send us your comments, it means a lot to us!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Short and Sweet:: Tribute to Hunger

Excerpt from “A Tribute to Hunger” (essay) by Tolu Ogunlesi

Asaba: The Madam

– from
1) The woman in charge of a household.
2) The woman in charge of a house of prostitution.

I spent almost year in Asaba (October 2005 to August 2006), in the oil-rich delta region of Nigeria (six hours away from home and from the “tyranny of the familiar”), serving Nigeria on the mandatory National Youth Service Corps scheme.

For much of that year, my fingers engaged in endless conversation with the plates and bowls of strange women, because my own plates and bowls remained behind at home. I had taken a vow of culinary chastity; I would not soil my hands with the soot of cooking pots in a strange land.

I call them (the “strange” women) the queens of the stomach, wielding supreme power from behind thrones of steam, soot and smoke. They all go by the generic name of “Madam”, and in turn inflict revenge-anonymity on their patrons by tagging them all “Customer”. But the generic-ness in my opinion suits the Madams better. If you have seen one Madam you have seen all Madams:

Buxom, with fat buttocks that you, in one absurd flight of the imagination, decide are layered in the way that critics say a well-written short story should be layered; soup-stained blouses and wrappers (fresher stains dissociating themselves visibly from the older, much-scrubbed ones), bare-feet (long, painted nails pouting from them) sewed onto charcoaled soles, forearms powerfully built from the endless motions of scooping out plate upon plate of Akpu and garri and rice from blackened pots over the course of a kitchen-based lifetime; upper-arms shaped as fluidly flabby counterpoints to their heavily muscled forearms.

Whatever the truth of the matter is, these women approach their vocation with a skill and a work ethic that would make the young, rat-racing, upwardly mobile clan look like a bunch of truants.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Anthills 2.0: Aural Magic

Bookaholics in Lagos should try to make this...

The Anthill still features provocative and entertaining spoken word performances as well as rich acoustic music by an eclectic collection of talented artists....

All rendered in a sultry, soulful atmosphere that remains quintessentially pure and intellectually playful.

Date: 21 June 2009

Venue: Buddha Bar, Saipan Restaurant

Bishop Aboyade Cole St., Victoria Island, Lagos


We happened on (sounding Shakespearean) a Guardian UK piece about Kate Atkinson's ideal writing situation: "to have enough money … [to] write and not be published". Her latest crime novel, When Will There Be Good News, won the best book of the year gong at the British book awards; she is also a Whitbread prize-winner Kate Atkinson.

Very odd, aint it? Why would anyone write and not want to get published?

Some writers write because that's the best thing they can do; others see writing as a means to survival; while yet another see it as a way to be heard, a means of emotional and psychological release.

On Bookaholic Blog, we write because we love arts and would love to spread some writerly love to all ye art lovers So to the question and away from my ranting: why do you write?

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Tales from a Bookfair

Every time you attend a book fair, there are so many things that happen more than buying or selling books. Some are funny, some are annoying and some are just there. I had some experiences at the last National International Book Fair, Lagos recently: a journalist that does not read; a very insistent Mr.Know all writer and me book sellers that parade themselves as publishers.

You can read more about my experiences here.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

A Photographic Exhibition: Jerry Riley

Are you in Toronto? Then this is one exhibition you should plan to attend.

Found Worlds:
A Photographic Exhibition by Jerry Riley

Venue: GalleryDK, 1332 Queen St. West, Toronto

Date: Opening June 4th, 2009, 7pm. Exhibition runs until June 29. 2009

"Jerry Riley's Found Worlds explores the secret landscapes left behind by paint's travels through art. These photographs of the evocative, accidental worlds created by the dried remnants of artist Elva Hook's surplus paint fuse Riley's preoccupation with travel landscapes, the repetition of use-value in the artistic process, and the hidden lives of things in our environment. His concurrent exhibition Building 13 reframes the social lives of Toronto's modernist buildings. In Found Worlds, Riley depicts the vast geographies contained in unassuming objects."

For more information on Riley and his works, go here.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Poetry for Charity

How about giving to the society by buying a book?

Poetry for charity
is a project which aims to bring together several writers from various regions of the world using the facebook social networking website, with a common aim of donating their poems and spoken word pieces to be added to a collection. All the revenue raised from the sale of the book would be donated to 3 different charities for every edition of the collection. The first “Poetry for charity, Volume one” has just been released and features the work of 34 writers from different backgrounds and volume two has 68 contributing writers.

The list of contributing writers includes some well known poets but most importantly, through poetry for charity we have been able to encourage a new breed of writers, and support worthy causes. We have been able to show that no matter your age, background or experience, writing is a form of expression and it is possible for you to develop your writing skills. The assistance to the charities has been immense, not only in monetary donations but also the increase in the awareness level of these charities, the members of the group have been encouraged to continue their relationship with the charities, and support them in whatever way they can even after buying the book. Poetry for charity also reaches a global audience; this means that the words of the contributors reach further than many perhaps imagined.

The cover photo for volume two has been donated by renowned photographer,Mr Jide Alakija.

Read more here; buy the book here.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Rejection is not the end of the world: Tricia Nwaubani

Book Details

Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani, I Do Not Come to you by Chance

Hyperion, 2009

416 pages.

A writer recounts (in a witty way) how she got her debut I Do Not Come to You by Chance published by Hyperion in America against all odds...this just seems to echoe Sigauke's words 'Shut up and write.' 

We believe that when your writing is good enough, you will get published (though that's neither a piece of cake nor a pie in the sky). Rejection letters only mean there's a better way to get the story told. Dear Bookaholics, let's find that way! 

Share your best and worst writing and publishing stories/rules with us but not after reading the piece here.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

'Shut up and write': Sigauke (BBM)

Three adjectives that best describe you

Flexible, compassionate, open

What will a book about your life be called?

The Event

Which talent would you most like to have?

I always dreamt I was a soccer champion, but I have been happy with writing since turning thirteen.

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?


What is the last thing you read that made you laugh?

Petina Gappah’s Mupandawana Dancing Champion

What is the worth of a book?


You are Obama for a day, what would you do?

Look at the mirror and tell my image, “Let’s go out there and change the world.”

How does being a Zimbabwean influence your writing?

That’s what enables my writing. I believe that by writing I am exercising what it means to be Zimbabwean; my work anchors on my Zimbabwean identity.

When is the best time to write for you?

I have no specific time, although I stay up late at night, reading and writing.

What is your most treasured possession?

My poetry publication, 'Forever Let Me Go'; but seriously, my mind.

What is the book that changed your life?

Actually, it’s a novel called Burr, by the historical American novelist Gore Vidal. That was the first literary novel I ever read in rural Zimbabwe. It brings back fresh memories, and I remember expressions that I thought were funny then, like, “he had a mouth like a fish’s” or “He had snake eyes.” It was just funny, and I started applying similar expressions in my composition and my teachers rewarded me well.

What inspires your writing?

The complexity of human life; the beauty and ugliness of our world.

What is your advice to young writers?

Shut up and write.

Define literature in a sentence

Works of art that strive to express a deep meaning of the human condition.

How will you introduce your child to literature?

He has already been introduced: read, read, read. My twelve-year-old has already read Kafka’s The Metamorphosis, and we sometimes discuss The Sound and the Fury. He loves the Benjy perspective of the story. He also carries Things Fall Apart in his back pack.

What part of the process of writing do you enjoy most?

Revision, which is what I am doing presently. I have written so much content in the past fifteen years, but much of it is just creativity, now I am perfecting the craft and voice.

Who are your favorite writers?

All of them; I really value every voice, and I regret having focused too much on what school literary syllabi prescribed. My favorite writers: Okay, fine-- Toni Morrison, William Faulkner, D.H. Lawrence, Thomas Hardy the poet, Dambudzo Marechera, James Joyce, W.B Yeats, Arundhati Roy, Kazuo Ishiguro, lately Chekhov, Franz Kafka…why even bother? There are just too many to list.

Favourite blog post

“The Pitfalls of Self-publishing”

Why do you write?

I don’t know how not to be a writer anymore; I am stuck.

What book are you reading at the moment?

Because I am trying to discover the purest form of the short stories, I am reading a minimum of fifteen authors, such as Anton Chekhov (three of his collections), Petina Gappah, James Joyce (Dubliners), Henry James, William Faulkner, Best American Short Stories 2007, Best American Short Stories 1997, Contemporary African Short Stories, edited by Achebe, Contemporary South African Short Stories, Nadine Gordimer, Chimamanda Adichie and a whole horde of craft books. You should see me moving from one room with a pile of books. I have to read as much as I can before my summer class begins on June 22.

What is the strangest research you’ve done?

To discover the psychology of cockroaches for a short story which was published by Horizon Magazine. It portrays a frustrated teacher who sets aside a whole afternoon to fight with the roaches in his room with his bare hands.

What is your philosophy of life?

Live responsibly, seek and establish a purpose for your life. Then laugh for no reason.

Emmanuel Sigauke runs a very interesting blog here.

Short and Sweet Poem: A Sack of Words

Here's a cute poem from our Bookaholic Blogger of the month: Emmanuel Sigauke. I'm sure you'd agree with me after reading...


in this country


no one
talks about;

a sack



remembered only
when nothing else
is there to forget.

The poem was first published by One Ghana, One Voice

Saturday, June 6, 2009


Crown Troupe plans for you fun entertainment in June. Top Naija performers expected include:
  • Soft Rock Diva Con-tra-diction who will be headlining at the show
  • Mr. Abinibility himself, Ace Comedian and Musician, Koffi
  • Sound Sultan, Yinka Davies, Beautiful Nubia, Nefertiti and Festac Town based Rapertuar...
Date: Sunday 7th June 2009
Time: 3pm - 7pm
Venue: Cinema Hall 1, National Theatre, Iganmu, Lagos.
Gate Fee: N1,000 only.
Menu: Great Music, Massive Dance, Thrilling Choreography!

The Gist:

To mark their13th Anniversary, and to give fans a sneak preview of their forthcoming (music) album, The Crown Troupe of Africa will stage a massive concert on Sunday the 7th of June 2009 from 3pm - 7pm at Cinema Hall 1 National Theatre, Iganmu.

Crown Troupe will perform the two songs from the Tunde Kelani/Mainframe Productions 'Arugba' motion picture that earned them a nomination for the AMAA awards and new never-heard-before songs, accompanied by the energetic dances and more surprises...

See you all there!!!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Annual Season of Wole Soyinka

As the Collusus turns 75, Theatre@Terra presents The 3rd Annual Season of Wole Soyinka. 

Date: Every Sunday in June and July. 


The Lion and The Jewel- June 7 & June 14

Death and The King's Horsemen- June 21 & June 28

Madmen and Specialists - July 5 & July 12

Kongi's Harvest - July 19 & 26

Venue: Terra Kulture, Tiamiyu Savage St, Victoria Island, Lagos. 

Time- 3pm & 6pm

Tickets- N2000

Orange Prize for Fiction...

It's a season of wins as the winners of the Orange Prize for Fiction, 2009 have been announced. 

Orange Prize for Fiction: Marilynne Robinson

Orange Award for New Writers: Francesca Kay

To read interviews with Marilynne Robinson go here, here and here...

To listen to excerpts from the winning entries go here

Thursday, June 4, 2009

100th Post on The Bookaholic Blog!

It's our 100th Post! Thank you so much for all the comments, emails, criticisms and of course traffic. A special Thank You too to all our followers. We still remember when it was just an idea floating round our heads, now we are becoming a force to reckon with in the Blog world of Books!

Let us know your favourite book or blog post so far...

Thank you.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Writing is the Only Thing I Enjoy: Helon Habila

We stumbled on this Helon Habila interview in Pambazuka and we thought we should share. He has this to say about the writing road:

H: "It has been a long road, and when I look back sometimes I am surprised at how really long it is. Of course there have been detours, and pauses, but I have always been able to maintain my focus because really writing is the only thing I enjoy doing, the only thing at which I am good and confident."

Read the remaining interview here

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Events for all...

What They Did Not Teach Me In School: Exhibition of paintings, Installations and assemblage by Joseph Eze - Suite e208, Ikota Shopping Complex, Victoria Garden City, Lagos. Opens (4pm) June 4.

9 Writers in Lagos: last leg of the literary tour – African Artists Foundatiuon, 54 Raymond Njoku Street, Ikoyi. 2-5pm. June 6.

The Lion and the Jewel: Theatre @Terra presents the third annual season of 4 plays by Wole Soyinka. Terra Kulture, Tiamiyu Savage Street, Victoria Island, Lagos. 3 & 6pm. June 7.

Oyerinde Olotu’s exhibition: Third solo exhibition of drawings and paintings: ‘Nigeria and Beyond’ - Quintessence, Falomo Shopping Centre, Ikoyi, Lagos. 4pm. Till June 14.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Tolu Ogunlesi makes another point!

Tolu Ogunlesi has proven once again that writing can fun and can also come with winning!

Go here for details...

What else can we say? Bookaholic Tolu, the sky is the starting point!

Expect an interview with Tolu on TBB soon!

Crossing Borders with Stories...

In The Length of Light, Unoma Azuah succeeds in telling tales that cross borders. From the very traditional setting to the contemporary Lagos life of survival, to the life of loneliness and longing for belonging in foreign lands.

Lagos also features in its darkness and mystery  as a city of tricks and gimmicks. "Obtained by Trick" reveals how a young lady is duped by a trickster; the trickster is also an ex-boyfriend.

Read more here.