We are hunting the demons that haunt others. We get a smell and off we go. And you know why, Sunil? You know why we are so good at hunting the demons of others? Because we are so good, gifted even, at stalking and evading our own. But all demons hunters think that they are really heroes, and you know what all heroes need?
My mom taught me to read when I was two or three. When I was five I read and wrote well enough to do my nine-year older brother's homework in exchange for chocolate or cigarettes. By the time I was 10, I was reading Orwell, Tolstoy's War and Peace, and the Koran. I was reading comic books too.
Anything a man can do, I can fix.
Fire and Water are archetypes, the split sides of consciousness; one aware, the other, not. The two parts of us that desire synthesis, yet resist it: the self and the shadow. But they are also the element of chance, of the random roll of dice.
Sometimes we say we want an end to hate or racism or sexism. But we all participate in keeping these structures alive. If everyone decided to relinquish the past what would happen to people who feel that there hasn't been proper atonement made to them? And what happens to the person who feels that the constant atonement is their identity?
You can count on Scandinavian literature for a certain kind of darkness, a modern mythic style.
Much of the image of the amazingness of America comes from the movies into other cultures. And it's much the same thing when you reverse it. Much of Africa is presented through poverty, through drought and war. [But] you're not presenting people, you're not presenting countries, you're not presenting complexity, and so people can't care about an amorphous mass called Africa.
What I do is create a lens through my work that corrects my readers' cognitive dissonance and says: you will see all of it - not what you want or what makes you comfortable, but all of it. And you will not erase what displeases you.
If I dont get at least one e-mail every ten minutes, I feel unloved. Even junk mail makes me feel seen. Sad, I know. Sigh.
My search is always to find ways to chronicle, to share and to document stories about people, just everyday people. Stories that offer transformation, that lean into transcendence, but that are never sentimental, that never look away from the darkest things about us.
I think that those of us who are ordinary disappear easily into the backdrop of life and we take things for granted. We often wake up in our lives and wonder how we got there. But the characters I create, the people I am drawn to, are quite extraordinary (and not always in wholesome ways), and they offer us the chance to understand who we really are and how we became who we are.
Your anatomy is a mystery that nobody bothers explaining to us. Even when we think we have mastered one woman's body, every body is different.
There was a positive side to not trying at something: you could always pretend that your life would have been different if you had.
All power within the microcosm of my world was held and wielded by people who look like me. Plus, I think Nigerians all have this sense that they are better than everyone, including white people. So I have the privilege of a certain distance. It may just be that. So in a sense, I can't claim that as any ability that I have, simply a matter of circumstance.
I think it's an aggregation of all of the small acts that are really transformative. I think a group of small acts transform the individual. And maybe when the individual transforms, collectively we transform.
Men do communicate, often very directly, but women sometimes cannot accept how simple what we have to say is. We seldom play games-we aren't that sophisticated.
I think a book that is over 400 pages should be split in two. I don't know that there's anything that interesting that can go on for 700 pages. I think that is a little bit indulgent.
Literature is an aspect of story and story is all that exists to make sense of reality. War is a story. Now you begin to see how powerful story is because it informs our worldview and our every action, our every justification is a story. So how can story not be truly transformative? I've seen it happen in real ways, not in sentimental ways or in the jargon of New Age liberal ideology.
If you want to know about Africa, read our literature - and not just 'Things Fall Apart,' because that would be like saying, 'I've read 'Gone with the Wind' and so I know everything about America.'
As with much of the world's problems, they become public-or much more of interest-the moment they begin to impact the West.
Love is at once the most creative and yet simultaneously destructive force in the world, and thus, in our lives. And I don't mean the Hallmark sentimental type of love, although that is part of it. But a deeper obligation that we have to each other: the obligation to reflect our humanness at each other, to reflect back the things others show us and we, them.
All my characters exist in risk, in the places we are either too afraid to go to, or have enough privilege not to have to, but whatever the reason, these characters I fashion go before us and come back transformed for us. For me, at least.
Since I hold no judgments against my characters, no matter how heinous they might seem, I present them as real people with their own moral centers. We might feel those moral centers are mis-calibrated, but they are there and are the rudders that propel them. This makes reading my work a visceral roller coaster, 'cause the reader must embark on the journey of the protagonist equipped only with his or her own moral center.
Unlike other books or TV shows or sometimes life, my narrative worlds are stripped of implicit moral centers. There is only what you bring. That makes the characters risky in every way and the narrative, a journey of change for the reader. But I make the journey as fun as I can.
The truth is that History, with its imposing capital H, is simply the amalgamation of many quotidian lives lived in very ordinary ways. History is always personal. If you read Holocaust survivor or American slavery survivor narratives, you realize all too well that these great Historical moments were personal to someone at some time.
If you encounter a human shadow burned permanently into the concrete in Hiroshima, you realize that this is the trace of a very ordinary person now elevated into the emblematic. Time, shame, complicity, or discomfort are the only things that make us pretend History is impersonal or far removed from the power and consequences of our every lived moment.
I think cities are the primordial forests of our time. We evolve faster as a species in cities. Cities are chaotic, liminal places where the many aspects of human potential, good and/or bad, are most readily magnified.
My books are often shelved around those of Chinua Achebe and Margaret Atwood, or Chimamanda Adichie and Monica Ali. All of this depends, of course, on the bookstore and how conversant the shelf stocker is with the alphabet.
I think that most writers who are trying to write important and difficult books are in many ways putting their own humanity into question. Sometimes the journey is finding out where you stand in relationship to your own humanity and to the humanity of others.