The Virus was nominated for the 2017 Caine Prize, alongside stories by the very funny Chikodili Emelumadu, the Main Mensch & Prize Winner Dr. Bushra al-Fadil (highly recommend his story), the velvet smooth Lesley Nneka Arimah (whose debut short story collection, What Does It Mean When A Man Falls From The Sky, is very much worth your while) and the absolutely winning & hilarious Arinze Ifeakandu. Meeting this crew was the highlight of the trip, alongside engaging with African readers throughout the week of London celebrations and readings. Check out my Instagram account to see what we got up to. Some highlights below:
Got sick as a dog in London. Major upshot was finally speaking with the voice the gods forgot to singe into my throat: A deep, lustrous thing that sounds like plush velvet with a rasp. Basically, Lesley Arimah's voice on acid. Yes Please, Sign Me Up, sniffles and all!
That's the voice you hear in the BBC World Service: The Cultural Frontline. The team was absolutely fantastic. And Dr. Bushra al-Fadil, Winner of the Caine Prize 2017, was in the studio too, sharing his wisdom and general good vibes. Listen here:
A dynamic interview is a dance--it takes two. Had the pleasure of speaking with Africa In Dialog's Gaamangwe Mogami--a masterful interviewer. Here's a snippet of what she got out of me:
I write to write myself and my people into being on the page. We are nowhere on the page. We are someone else’s idea of who we should be on the page. We are a bad recollection of nightmares and fantastic feats on the page. We are so seldom an ordinary woman with zero magical powers but a gap tooth and a soft spot for makipkip after slap chips. And that kind of existential denial—our absence and distortion on the page—matters. It fuels the dehumanizing myths and institutions around us. It sanctioned and sanctified slavery, apartheid, Jim Crow and the mindless deaths of Trayvon Martin and other black men. It’s easy to believe fiction, art really, doesn’t affect tough decisions, policy and institutional direction, but nothing could be further from the truth. Nothing is more real than art—reality springs from art. Literature has the power to remake and mend our warped world order, simply by writing it into being.
Read the full interview here, as well as Gaamangwe's conversations with the other Caine Prize nominees.