Meet an author: Chika Unigwe
Chika Unigwe was born in Enugu, Enugu State. She has degrees from the University of Nigeria and the KU Leuven. She holds a PhD from the University of Leiden in Holland.
She is the author of four novels, including On Black Sisters, Street (2009, Night and Dancer.
1. When did you start writing and why?
I still have an old diary with my handwritten poems and plays in it from when I was in elementary school. I have always enjoyed reading and writing for as long as I can remember.
I write because I cannot NOT write. It’s how I make sense of the world.
2. At what point do you know that a story/book is complete?
When there is nothing more I could possibly say.
I write because I cannot NOT write. It’s how I make sense of the world. - Chika Unigwe Click To Tweet
3. What’s the hardest/easiest thing about writing?
4. What books would you say shaped your writing?
I read voraciously as a child and I still read a lot, and every good book I have read (so far) has challenged me, taught me and inspired me.
5. Are you working on anything at the moment?
Yes, but I can’t talk about it yet. It’s not at the point where I can talk about it.
6. How do you feel about bad reviews?
Critics don’t owe me reviews, good or bad. I also don’t take reviews personal.
7. If you could be a character in a novel you’ve read, who would you be and why?
I’m reading Commonwealth by Ann Patchett at the moment and one of the characters has become very good at meditating. I’d love to be able to do that.
8. If your life was a book, what would the title be?
I am terrible at coming up with titles. I’ve tried really hard to come up with something clever with no luck.
9. Tell us something about yourself that your readers probably don’t know.
When I lived in Belgium, I went into politics in my city and won a city councillor seat. It was a lot of hard but rewarding work. I’d love to get back into politics again at some point.
10. What books by a Nigeria Author would you recommend to a friend?
All the recent excellent debuts: Elnathan John’s, Ayobami’s, Arimah’s, Chigozie Obioma’s; books by the relative “old” hands: Uwem Akpan; Adichie; Igoni Barrett; Adamu Abubakar; Chinelo Okparanta; Adaobi Nwaubani; Lola Shoneyin; Sefi Atta; Molara Wood; Jude Dibia; Toni Kan Onwordi; EC Osondu; Chris Abani: Helon Habila; Teju Cole; Okey Ndibe; Sarah Mayinka (and I am sure I’ve left some names out) and of course books by the ones who lay the foundation: Soyinka, Achebe, Emecheta, Nwapa, Ekwensi, Tutuola..