#9mobileTop9: Meet Odafe Atogun

#9mobileTop9: Meet Odafe Atogun

Name: Odafe Atogun

Book Title: ‘Taduno’s Song’

Publisher: Canongate Books

Summary: ‘Taduno’s Song’ tells of sacrifice, love and courage. Taduno the musician in ‘Taduno’s Song’, upon return from political exile abroad discovers the woman he loves has been imprisoned and could hang unless he performs in support of the government in power. Taduno must make an impossible choice: fight the power or save the woman he loves.

Odafe Atogun hails from Edo State, Nigeria but was born in Lokoja, in the old Kwara State, now in Kogi State. As a child, his imagination served as an escape from difficult conditions, and ultimately led him to the path to a full-time writing career. All he has, he says, are the stories to share with the world, a legacy, and hopes they live, long after he is gone. He studied accounting briefly to please his father before switching to journalism more by the need to follow his own path than in rebellion.

Interview: 

What inspires you to write?

Society inspires me to write. Every time I look round, I’m driven to my desk. I take my inspiration from society.

How do you feel about your book being on the longlist?

Since I was a child I had dreamed of becoming a writer. And as a child, I never got any birthday present. Being longlisted makes up for all the presents I never got!

Have you read any of the books that have been shortlisted for the 9mobile Prize for Literature?

Bom Boy by Yewande Omotoso, We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo, Tram 83 by Fiston Mwanza Mujila, And After Many Days by Jowhor Ile, Mr. and Mrs. Doctor by Julie Iromuanya.

Whose works do you admire in the literary space and why?

The literary space is rich with wonderful writers. I admire most those whose works give me a tangible sense of other times and places. My imagination is broadened by such works.

Packing for a journey and you are allowed to take one book, what will it be?

The Bible. It is a book of infinite riches and wisdom, almost like a book of fables.

What do you think makes a good story?

The fluency with which the story carries the reader on the wave of different emotions and the words that echo long after the last page.

What was the most surprising thing you learnt while writing your book?

That I have no control over how my plot progresses.

Your hobbies are?

Driving fast cars, reading, writing, listening to people’s experiences, playing Chess.

Tell us your view about the 9mobile Prize for Literature.

It is avant-garde, and is promoting a new culture of creativity all over Africa, indeed the world.

What will you tell the up-and-coming writer?

Tell yourself that you will write for the rest of your life even if you don’t get published. Franz Kafka did not get published while he lived. Today, he is regarded as one of the major figures in 20th century literature and his books are being read all over the world.

Favourite book ever.

Taduno’s Song. Lol! But seriously, it is difficult for me to point to one book. I have read many wonderful books over the years.

Why?

I chose ‘Taduno’s Song’ because I wrote it. Moreover, I don’t want to commit the error of picking one favourite book among the many wonderful ones I have read.

Last book read?

Foe by J.M. Coetzee.

Who is your favourite author/writer?

There are many. But if I’m forced to pick one it would be Milan Kundera.

Do you think Nigerians read?

No question about it, Nigerians read, and the culture is even getting better.

About The Author

Osigweh Lilian Oluchi is a graduate of the University of Lagos where she obtained a B.A (Hons) in English, Masters in Public and International affairs (MPIA). Currently works with 1stnews as a Database Manager / Writer. [email protected]

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