Book Chat: Adaobi Nwaubani and Sulaiman Addonia

After introducing the authors and asking them to read from their deeply touching books, Lade Tawak asked about the origin of their inspirations. Adaobi Nwaubani made it clear to the audience that she was inspired to write about the trauma Boko Haram insurgents foisted on the lives of Nigerians, especially those in the fore of their brutal attacks in Northern Nigerian. She added that she got interested in the project when, as a journalist, she pursued a story on the abductions of victims by the terrorist organisation. This pursuit led her to interview many survivors. Hence, she said, “I used each character in my book to represent as many experiences as possible and to tell different stories without fabricating anything.”

Sulaiman Addonia, on the other, was profuse about how he drew heavily from the experiences that characterised his formative years in a refugee camp in Sudan. Thus, he said, “I cannot deny the fact that trauma is in me, I am really wounded but I have learnt from writers like Virginia Woolf that I have this ability to write as I sink.” Sulaiman Addonia added that while writing those characters, he was also a page for his characters, because they were altering him and rewriting his life in ways he never counted on.  

During the question and answer session, a participant wanted to know how Adaobi Nwaubani was able to stay sane while engaging with the traumatic issues captured in her book. Adaobi Nwuabani replied by saying her book is journalism masqueraded as a piece of fiction, that there were times when she was just after the story like any professional journalist would, and that there were times the subject matter took over her so much, that she was fit for nothing but sitting and weeping with the victims she was having conversations with. 

On whether readers should expect a sequel to his work, Sulaiman Addonia replied by saying trauma really never ends with just one book, or with just books.