Skip to main content

Travelers: A One Minute Conversation with Helon Habila



I have just finished reading TRAVELERS from the ONEREAD app by STERLING BANK and I feel one of the most important highlights for me was the representation of numerous themes explored in the novel. That  also made me connect well too.

 

There is also the part that TRAVELERS is actually a book that has a “well-traveled” setting.

 

Did your experiences influence the writing of TRAVELERS?

 

Yes, it did. We always write from our experiences, in one way or another, and I guess some more than others. I did meet people like the characters represented in Travelers, most of them in Berlin and Switzerland. A lot of the story is based on the interviews I had with these migrants. Like you said, the setting is also important. This is my first book set entirely outside Nigeria, I had to be careful not to misrepresent other cultures and people.

 

 

There is also some magic that comes with the entire descriptive style. Everything was simplified in a way we all feel what we have never seen before. I understand this is a great skill.

 

Was this a strategy to get all kinds of readers ?

 

As a story teller one of my important aims is always to carry the reader along. I do this by constantly surprising and him with unexpected twists in my plot, and in my characterization as well--I defamiliarize the familiar. I didn't have a particular reader in mind, so you could say I was writing for an ideal reader, some one like myself.

 

 

How long did it take you to write TRAVELERS?

 

About three years. One year for research one year for drafting, and one year for re-writing. My biggest challenge was shaping the actual stories and interviews into fiction, and finding a connecting thread between the lives and experiences of my six major characters. It took a while. Thankfully, with all the characters there is one overarching theme in their narrative, the lose of home and the search for a new home. I began from there.

 

 

Were there books you were reading at the same time TRAVELERS were being written ?

 

Ans: I am always reading, when I am writing and when I am not writing. I had to read a lot of books that deal with the same subject matter as mine. There's a lot of literature out there to do with migration and exile, etc. It was a bit daunting to throw my hat into that crowded ring. But then, one shouldn't be discouraged from writing a war story because there are many war novels out there, or a painter doesn't stop painting a tree of a river because others have done it. One simply has to find what makes his own rendering unique, and urgent, and interesting. I guess the question I asked myself was: is this story necessary, is it important? The answer was yes.

 

 

What are you reading currently ?

 

Ans: Many books. One is a book on the library in Timbuktu, it is a nonfiction book on ancient manuscript collectors of Timbuktu, going back to the 14th century. It is called The Bad Ass Librarians of Timbuktu. I am also reading Colson Whitehead's The Underground Railroad. I recommend both.

 

 

Working on a fifth book ?

 

Ans: Yes. I am excited about this one

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Dalu's Diary by Ogechi Ezeji : Children's Literature in Nigeria is Coming Back

I felt like a child once again, after reading Ogechi Ezeji’s Dalu’s Diary, a book of fiction for children and adults alike.The feeling I got from reading this work is akin to the one I got from reading Chinua Achebe’s Chike and the River, Onuora Nzekwu’s Eze Goes to School, Cyprian Ekwensi’s The Drummer Boy and all other great children fictions of Nigeria’s literary golden age, so many years ago.
In the story, little Chukwudalu Aniche is obsessed with his diary, which he kept and wrote in at every turn of an important event that moves him to write. He initially lived in Owerri with his parents, Mr and Mrs Aniche and his beloved uncle Akachi, before his accountant father was transferred to Abuja, on account of his honesty and determination towards his job.
Through Dalu’s diary, we are able to understand the inner workings of the young boy’s mind, his family, his closeness with his uncle, his view of his maternal aunt and her erratic daughter and most of all, his perception of his new sch…

Writers against the Bullying of Otosirieze Obi-Young and the Obfuscation of Truth

A STATEMENT BY WRITERS IN SUPPORT OF OTOSIRIEZE OBI-YOUNG
In light of recent tweets and threads going around about the former Deputy Editor of Brittle Paper and the resistance to what many consider an unfortunate muzzling of truth, we, his colleagues and friends, would like to make a few things clear:
We have worked with Otosirieze Obi-Young for years, have disagreed with him on many occasions, and never have we felt disrespected or stifled by him.
We know and have often celebrated his firm commitment to diversifying the literary scene, giving young writers visibility, his efforts to make sure that prizes think of more writers than the already-known, especially those writers living on the continent; his push for the establishment of the Brittle Paper Awards is one example of concrete ways in which this commitment has been put to work. On Facebook, we have seen him talk passionately and with deep knowledge about the state of African writing and what needs to be done to enhance it, and thi…

Chetachi Igbokwe: What it Means to Attend Chimamanda Adichie’s Writing Workshop

Chetachi Igbokwe is a final year student of English and Literary Studies at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He is the current editor of the University of Nigeria’s student journal, The Muse, a journal of creative and critical writing, founded by Chinua Achebe in 1963. He is a 2019 alumnus of the Purple Hibiscus Creative Writing Workshop, facilitated by the Nigerian writer, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.


What was it like having to be taught by the amazing Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie? Was it your first time of applying? 

CHETACHI IGBOKWE: Thanks to Black Boy Review for affording me this platform. I respect Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and being taught by her was a great deal for me. Having read everything she has published thus far, starting from her first novel, Purple Hibiscus, which was a tour de force, it is evident that every generation must feel blessed to be graced with a writer like her. Originally, I knew about the workshop from close friends. I also knew how very competitive it was but I…