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Ayodeji is A BellaNaijarian Reading Zadie Smith’s “NW” & Emmanuel Iduma’s “A Stranger’s Pose”



Someone, I think it was James Baldwin, once said we read so we can live other lives. (Don’t quote me on that.) Reading exposes us to other experiences, experiences we might never know otherwise in our own little lives.

What’s even better is when, after living that other life, after enjoying that life, one gets to share it with others.

That’s the idea behind A BellaNaijarian reading, where we ask you guys to share your reading experience with us.

Our first reader sharing his experience is journalist Ayodeji, whose work was recently in the New York Times. (You should read it.)

He’s reading both Zadie Smith‘s “NW,” published in 2012, and Emmanuel Iduma‘s “A Stranger’s Pose,” published in 2o18. (2 books!)

Here’s what he says about the books:

On his relationship with books
I write for a living so reading widely is how I get better at it. Some people say journalism is not necessarily writing, its reporting fact, but I think even that can have its own rhythm, pace, world building, compelling characters which reading helps bring out. No surprise my favorite kind of journalism is narrative / literary non-fiction. My reading these days is often functional. To learn new things. To see what is possible with language. To feel.

On the types of books he enjoys
Books that make me feel. I love books with emotional heft. I want to get lost in someone else’s love, joy, regret, disappointment, the works.

On if he’s a buyer or a borrower
I’m a buyer.

On why he chose the book he’s reading
Its one of the books I bought at a book festival in 2015 that I have not gotten round to reading. So ticking off the to-do list type thing.

On if he read any reviews before diving in
No, but watched and read lovely things about the author, Zadie Smith.

On the book he’s reading and what he enjoys about it
NW by Zadie Smith. It’s very rich in wit. It has characters and a narration that’s sassy, tongue-in-cheek, playful. It’s not often enough that books make one laugh. Even if dealing with heavy stuff, which I also like. The writing, which forgoes commas to point out dialogue, other punctuation rules stands out to me. Haven’t decided if I like it, it can be confusing to follow in bits.

On when he started reading the book
A few days ago.

On if he’s reading something else concurrently
I typically don’t but I set a 2-books-a-month goal for myself and NW was getting a bit tedious, so I am now also reading Emmanuel Iduma’s A Stranger’s Pose. If I didn’t pick up another one, usually would stop reading altogether.

On if this is the first time he’s reading this author
No. I have read several of his essays.

On what he finds fascinating about the writer’s style
Iduma can bring unprecedented perspective, emotion to describing an otherwise bland 2B pencil. A gift.

On if he’d recommend the book to BellaNaijarians
I would. I would also recommend patience in reading it.

On what he read before this and what he’s reading after
I had just finished Chinese Cinderella by a Chinese author whose name I do not remember. Heartbreaking autobiography. I often think ill towards the author’s parents. I am planning on returning to James Baldwin’s Notes from a Native Son or Ta-Nehisi Coates‘ The Beautiful Struggle.

On his 3 most interesting reads of 2018
I didn’t do much reading (of books) in 2018 so can’t help here, I’m afraid. But perhaps the best thing I read was Alexander Chee‘s How to Write an Autobiographical Novel, a collection of essays. It was interesting because the author narrates a life (his) quite unfamiliar to me, but it was told with such care, such gorgeousness, honesty, and in gracefully assembled detail. I was lost in it and quite unhappy when the book ended. Mind, I had taken my sweet time with it and read it in bits.

On what he’s looking forward to reading in 2019
Anything by Jhumpa Lahiri if she is so generous to publish another book.

On the books he enjoyed so much he’s recommending to everyone
Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi. Behold The Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue. Rich, funny, heartbreaking stories from Ghana and Cameroon connected to America. I also would love everyone to partake in the beautifully restrained and graceful prose of Jowhor Ile in And After Many Days.

If you want to share what you’re reading on A BellaNaijarian Reading, just send us a mail on features(at)bellanaija(dot)com and tell us about what you’re reading.

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