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


Popular posts from this blog

The Mark of the Lost: A Review of Chetachi Igbokwe’s Stage Play -Homecoming

In a time when theatres face a dearth of good pieces and theatrical performances gradually fade into plain text, the need for a homecoming of the art form, its representation of the dramatic, becomes important. Homecoming is an unpublished play that brings to the fore, the old craft of tragic dramatic art. Written by Chetachi Igbokwe and directed by Ugochukwu Victor Ugwu. The play premiered at the New Arts Theatre, University of Nigeria, Nsukka under the auspices of the Maestro Theatre. The play, which more beautifully, is a debut, brings you closer to African art, draws you in to fear, pity, myth, and of course plunges you afresh into a communion of tragedy; that man is born broken, for he lives by mending his brokenness, and only his chi becomes his death or salvation. The play is an Act on three characters: Nwakibe, Adannaya, his wife, and Nebeolisa, a lost son who appears to us as just Mr. Johnson; a writer from Moldova who becomes a neighbor to Nwakibe, whom he rents a room o

MEMORY'S INESCAPABILITY: A review of IFÉSINÀCHI NWÁDIKÈ'S How Morning Remembers The Night by Ikechukwu Iwuagwu

Author: Ifésinàchi Nwádikè' Publisher: Winepress Publishing & Griots Lounge Publishing Year: 2020 Pagination: 66 Reviewer: Ikechukwu Iwuagwu The inextricability of literature and reality is a standard which gives literary pieces varying degrees of quality. Grief, sorrow, regret, joy and happiness amongst others are fabrics or components which lace our memories. Ifesinachi Nwadike's 33 poem collection titled How Morning Remembers the Night bares relentlessly the colour and mien of memories as regard to the poet, and by extension his immediate society. Ushering us in with an introit which in my view, is a painting with words which gives us a nutshell of this literary master piece, more or less a foreshadow, Nwadike shows his proclivity for activism and concern for ones nation:   Grief came knocking on my heart's door... Grief of a comrade, in a hurry, No goodbyes...    Of activists, nationalists, patriots whose bloods, their nation's root sprout in

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 percept