Conversation 002: Emmanuel Iduma and Adebiyi Olusolape

by Enkare Review

Emmanuel Iduma: Do you remember when we met? I have a vague memory of Dami Ajayi showing you a short story I’d just written (God Sees Backward) and you said something about my poetry.

Adebiyi Olusolape:  That feels like far away and long, long ago, but is it even eight years yet? If you had not given it, I would not have remembered the title of the story. However, I recall the thrill I got from reading that story even though I do not recall many of its particulars. The central character was a Christian preacher, right? And, the story was set against the backdrop of an ethno-religious conflict in Jos, or have I gotten it wrong?

The thing about your poetry is the realisation that your writing relied on a metonymic choice of words. You would be describing an everyday feeling, action or event but your word choice relied on substituting unexpected words for the ones I would naturally expect in those contexts. The journey of reading you meant arriving at familiar places but through oblique routes.

Your writing kept compelling my thoughts to move laterally. From time to time, this lateral movement would run into the concreteness of a solid metaphor. I think it all worked because much of your action played out in the mind of a character or the narrator. The physics and geography of inner worlds allows for that kind of thing. And, your characters were notable for their odd notions, so the technique and the ideas it was used to portray reinforced each other.

Continue Reading

Inside Fiction: ‘Account’ by Namwali Serpell

by Carey Baraka

Readers of Namwali Serpell’s work are no strangers to her ‘unusual’ and experimental writing style. Her short story, Account, on Enkare Review this week is in the format of a bank statement and the credit card transactions therein, “read slowly and carefully, the way detectives read bank statements,” give us the sad and tragic tale of a young girl.

INTERVIEWER

The entire story, Account, is a bank statement. What was the process of writing this story like?

NAMWALI SERPELL

I was recovering from surgery when I wrote this story. I spent an inordinate amount of time in bed working on the design layout. I wanted it to look exactly like a real bank statement. I was pleased to learn that I succeeded with at least one reader. When I emailed it to my agent, he thought I had been on such strong pain medication that I had deliriously sent him my own bank statement by mistake! 

Continue Reading

Conversation 001: Redscar McOdindo K’Oyuga and Sanya Noel; On Poetry Prizes

by Enkare Review

In August this year, two Kenyans, Redscar Mcodindo K’oyuga and I, were shortlisted for the Babishai Niwe Poetry Award (BNPA) in Kampala, Uganda. Despite having taken part in several writing projects together, Redscar and I had never met before. We first met at Maria’s Place in Ntinda, Kampala where the BNPA festival was taking place. Dressed in a checked shirt and brown khaki trousers, he came and sat next to me then went in for a handshake. I shook it with the irritability of a distracted man before going back to the discussion at hand. Then he said, “Sanya, you’re Sanya, right? My name is Redscar.”

He is a reclusive man, Redscar, often keeping away from most groupings, and if you find him in one, you won’t hear him say much.

Immediately after the BNPA festival, he left Kampala for Kisumu, where the inaugural Nyanza Literary Festival (NALIF) was taking place. There, he would win the NALIF poetry prize and in Kampala, he would become the winner of the Writivism Okot p’Bitek Prize for Poetry in Translation.

Continue Reading

Interview 001: “Structures improve our literature, not prizes.” – Chuma Nwokolo

by Troy Onyango

With about a dozen novels to his name, Chuma Nwokolo is one of the most prolific Nigerian writers of his generation. His trademark writing style, injecting humour into even the most tragic of situations, is one he says is elemental to him as life is grim already. A slender man, with a height that dwarfs everyone else’s in the room, grey hair and a dress code that places him firmly in his West African origin, he is difficult to miss. When he speaks, his voice booms, his eyes radiate and his hands and body are not left behind, something that draws you to listen to him.

His first novels, The Extortionist and Dangerous Inheritance were published in 1983 and 1988 respectively. These were then to be followed by African Tales at Jailpoint (1999), Diaries of a Dead African (2003), One More Tale for the Road (also in 2003), Memories of Stone (a poetry collection published in 2006), The Ghost of Sani Abacha (Short stories, 2012), How to Spell Naija in 100 Short Stories (2013), The Final Testament of a Minor God(Poetry, 2014), The Extinction of Minai (TBA) and How to Spell Naija in 100 Short Stories, Vol II which he was in Nairobi to launch.

Continue Reading