sheraton abuja hotelsSheraton Abuja Hotel has promised a steady flow of fun events this Easter as the hospitality establishment gears towards the Easter season celebrations with special programmes themed; Easter Fiesta Fun.

The Easter offers set to run from April 17 through to 20, is part of the annual Easter celebration package for guests and visitors to the hotel which for this year sees the hotel offer a special room rate of N30, 000.

According to the General Manager, Mr. Boris Bornman, in a media release made available to Champion Tourism, “From exciting kiddies Easter egg hunts to a lavish buffet meal offering at the Papillion restaurant as well as great get-away offers on room rates, these packages are created to keep customers happy and satisfied”.

“The special offers are largely targeted at visitors to the FCT as well as Abuja patrons in the sense that people can stay here and experience a fun Easter filled with memories that will last a life time. Our special Easter offering consists of great bargains on room rates from N30, 000 to the Easter buffet special (N6, 500) a truly unforgettable dining experience”.

Continuing, Bornman said: “We have not left out Health and Fitness; it is going to be the best time ever at our Sheraton Abuja Fitness Center with our well thought out Easter Aerobics/Body Blasting work out plan”. “This” he explained “is a map out of Strict but relaxing work out activities which are guaranteed to help you build 6-pack abs, burn excess calories & maintain a healthy body sculpture all for just N2, 000 only for walk-in guests”.

For the junior guests, the hotel will offer swimming sessions and water polo among other treats for the Easter season.

“The children” he added “are not left out of the fun. Kids will enjoy swimming sessions, water polo, football, taekwondo and lots more,” added Bornman,

“Our services have become more personalized as we consistently orient ourselves to the needs and expectations of our clients; much more people are willing to spend Holiday seasons here instead of going somewhere else. Everyone is going to have a great time this Easter, that’s a promise,” the General Manager concluded.

Also remarking, Area Public Relations Manager for Starwood Hotels in Nigeria, Ms Nanji Tyem said: “Sheraton is the world’s gathering place and in this regards our guests will have a range of entertaining options from Barbecue nights at the poolside, exciting Social Hour at the Lobby Bar to themed nights at the restaurants”.

(L-R): The Founder/Managing Director, LOST IN LAGOS, Tannaz Bahnam; Representative of MasterCard, Mr Tunji Adeyinka, Tranzit representative, Ugochi Ugbomeh and the Co-founder, CityChops, Nike Adeleye during a Press Conference of the maiden edition of “Restaurant Week” organised by Lost in Lagos in Lagos.

(L-R): The Founder/Managing Director, LOST IN LAGOS, Tannaz Bahnam; Representative of MasterCard, Mr Tunji Adeyinka, Tranzit representative, Ugochi Ugbomeh and the Co-founder, CityChops, Nike Adeleye during a Press Conference of the maiden edition of “Restaurant Week” organised by Lost in Lagos in Lagos.

Premiere Lagos lifestyle guide, Lost in Lagos, has announced the maiden edition of Restaurant Week holding from the April 7– 17this year with 21 select restaurants in Ikeja, Ikoyi, Victoria Island and Lekki, Lagos participating.

Managing Director/Founder of Lost in Lagos, Tannaz Bahnam in a press briefing in Lagos said “this is the maiden edition of Restaurant Week and the essence is to promote dinning. What we have done is select 21 of the top restaurants in Lagos and showcase their uniqueness to the public.

“Restaurant Week will be offering three course meals at the price of N4, 000 for lunch and N6, 000 for Dinner excluding drinks, tax or service. What we want to achieve is to make these restaurants more accessible to people and give them opportunity to enjoy varieties of menu.”

Over the past few years, Lagos has enjoyed a growth spurt. With a growing variety of gourmet restaurants now available in Nigeria, especially Lagos, Restaurant Week will grant restaurants an opportunity to show their specialty to larger audience as well as offer guests dining option to explore.

Representative of the official sponsor – MasterCard, Mr. Tunji Adeyinka said, “This is the first time that MasterCard is partnering with Lost in Lagos and we are happy to be part of this event. In the future, we would be glad to partner with them because we see Restaurant Week as a platform to reward our customers and our card holders. Therefore, we encourage every MasterCard holder to visit Priceless Africa to partake of these benefits and more.”

Other companies supporting Restaurant Week include Tranzit, represented by Ugochi Ugbomeh and CityChops, represented by Nike Adeleye.

During this 10-day period, Lagos’ most exclusive restaurants will offer set prix–menus for lunch and dinner (Saturday is not included) and will allow visitors to try new restaurants, or go back to favourites that they save for special occasions.

Participating restaurants include: Piccolo Mondo, Yellow Chilli, Pattaya, La Scala, Milano, Foundry, Rhapsody’s VI, Orela, Orchid Bistro, Primi Piatti, Spice Route, Bazaar, Bistro 7,Ginger Tapas, Soho Restaurant at Intercontinental, La Provence, La Veranda, Rhapsody’s Ikeja, Fusion, Casa D’Lydia and Bar Campione.

Restaurants will also gain additional exposure throughout the promotional period with the SNAP IT Photo Contest. The contest will allow diners submit photos of their dishes, where they will be put on Lost in Lagos site and the best photo will win an iPad, a spa day and a meal voucher to their favourite restaurant; a medium to entice people to visit more restaurants.

In addition, Lost in Lagos will offer customers who book for Restaurant Week special taxi rides together with Tranzit.

ImageEconomic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Commission has assured of its commitment to facilitating regional integration through effective implementation of its flagship free movement protocol and programmes, which promote unfettered circulation of persons, goods and services with a view to improving trade and economic development.

President of the Commission, His Excellency Kadré Desire Ouédraogo who made this known during a visit to the Noepe Joint Border Post (JBP) Construction Site on the Togo-Ghana frontier, added that: “There cannot be integration without free movement of people, goods and services.” The 10.28 million-Euro Noepe project being handled by an indigenous company and which has reached more than 90 percent completion is one of the seven JBPs along the borders of nine ECOWAS Member States – (Nigeria-Benin, Benin-Togo, Togo-Ghana, Ghana-Cote d’Ivoire, Benin-Niger, Ghana-Burkina Faso and Guinea Conakry-Mali).

The seven are being supported under the European Union (EU) Transport Facilitation Project for some African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Countries President Ouédraogo, who led an ECOWAS delegation that included the Commissioner for Infrastructure, Mr. Ebrima Njie and his Finance counterpart, Mrs. Khadi Ramatu Saccoh, was joined by Togo’s Minister for Public Works, Honourable Ninsao Gnofam and Ghana’s Deputy Minister for Roads and Highways Mr. Isaac Mensah, during the pre-handover/takeover visit on 10th March 2014.

Commending the two countries for their cooperation and the EU for providing the grant, the ECOWAS chief also paid tribute to the Contractor, Societe GER Sarl of Togo, for the high quality of work in the project execution, adding: “we are proud and this shows what we can do working as ECOWAS and our partners.”

He expressed optimism that the issues raised during the inspection would be addressed during an anticipated coordination that would involve all the stakeholders towards rectifying any identified gaps.

“ECOWAS will take all the necessary steps required to put the project into meaningful use,” the president added.

Expressing similar positive sentiments, Togo’s Minister Gnofam, commended ECOWAS for the JBP initiative, noting that the benefits of the project to the community were enormous. He also recommended that the observations made during the pre-handover/takeover visit would be addressed by the suggested coordination meeting.

For his part, Ghana’s Deputy Minister Mensah said ECOWAS should be proud of the fact that an indigenous company handled the project to satisfaction, “unlike in the past when we had to look up to developed countries for such works.”

Noepe is to serve as a model for the JBPs, from the EU grant of 63.8 million Euros to ECOWAS under the EU Transport Facilitation Project covered by the 9th EU Development Fund (EDF).

Each JBP is divided into zones for passenger operations, freight/transit handling and livestock inspection.

Zone A (General Administration) is for accomplishing required formalities of the flows of pedestrians and passenger’ vehicles; Zone B (Customs Brigades) is for handling of Freight (heavy vehicles), while Zone C (Livestock Park) is for the regulatory inspections of animals.

The JBP programme was borne out of desire by the ECOWAS and UEMOA Commissions to increase the competitiveness and efficiency of the main transport corridors in West Africa so as to boost inter- and intra-regional trade as well as international trade which is a key factor of growth and contributor to poverty alleviation.

A different but related JBP project for the Nigeria-Cameroon border is being supported by the African Development Bank (AfDB) with a grant of USD$26.5 million.

The overarching aim of the JBPs is to facilitate cross-border transport and movement by removing non-tariff barriers to transit, reducing transport costs and minimising transit time for persons, goods and services.

Politically, this will also bring together border administrators from country pairs as well as give a sense of regional integration, unity and security.

Also at Noepe for the pre-handover/takeover visit, were the ECOWAS Project Advisor/Focal Point Mr. Emmanuel Chiejine, the Project Manager Mr. Victor Houewatonou and GER Togo officials led by the Company’s Chief Executive Mr. Frederic Lequessim.


ImageUnited Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and the African Union (AU) will sign an MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) to consolidate their partnership in matters related to the development and consolidation of the tourism industry in Africa.

The MOU proposal tabled by Alain St.Ange, the Seychelles Minister responsible for Tourism and Culture who said that the grouping of African Member States into an ‘Africa Brand of Tourism’ should work with and alongside the UNWTO.

St.Ange said after the adoption of the Seychelles Final Communique that he was hoping the the ‘Africa Brand of Tourism’ would enhance the cooperation between UNWTO and Africa, and that the ‘Africa Brand of Tourism’ could also become a UNWTO Affiliate Member.

Africa already has a working partnership with the UNWTO through the UNWTO CAF grouping and this grouping will next be meeting in Angola at the end of April.

Elsia Grandcourt, the Director for Africa at the UNWTO supported the call approved by the AU Ministerial Working Group meeting in Seychelles. Elia Grandcourt who was herself personally present at the Seychelles meeting, said that she is if following up with Dr Elham M. A. Ibrahim, the AU Commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy and remained hopeful that an MOU could be signed during the working visit to Addis Ababa by Taleb Rifai, the Secretary General of the UNWTO this year.

Elsia Grandcourt said that this partnership agreement would mark a new milestone for Africa Tourism and could serve as the umbrella for the potential joint cooperation between the UNWTO and its Africa Member States.


ImageSouth Africa’s Minister of Tourism, Marthinus van Schalkwyk, has formally launched the ‘Madiba Inspired Tourist Attractions’, a travel map that encourages tourists from around the world to come to the country to walk in former President Nelson Mandela’s footsteps.

“The passing of South Africa’s first democratically elected president, Nelson Mandela, in December 2013 sparked a global outpouring of grief. The world paused as we collectively reflected on the life of this phenomenal man, and celebrated what he had achieved, not only for South Africa but for mankind. Most of the places associated with his life’s journey teemed with visitors who dedicated private notes and flowers as tokens of respect and remembrance, as South Africans and indeed the world, tried to come to terms with the loss of the founding father of the nation,” said Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk.

The minister said at an event at the Drakenstein Correctional Centre (formerly Victor Verster Prison) in Cape Town, the last place that the late Nelson Mandela was held captive before he took his first steps to freedom February 11, 1990.

“To make it as easy as possible for people to personally experience Mandela’s story, we have developed the ‘Madiba Inspired Tourist Attractions’ map, that encapsulates the key points of his life’s journey,” Van Schalkwyk said.

Developed by South African Tourism in partnership with the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, the map highlights tourist sites as well as general places of interest in the four main provinces that defined Mandela’s life. These include: the Eastern Cape, where he was born, grew up and attended Fort Hare University; Gauteng, where he worked as a human rights lawyer and became instrumental in South Africa’s political struggle; KwaZulu-Natal, where he was captured and the Western Cape, where he was imprisoned and ultimately freed.

Since Mandela’s release from prison in February 1990, a number of world-class museums, monuments and precincts have been developed to bring his story to life and to cater for the demand to better understand South Africa’s history. 

The Madiba Inspired Tourist Attractions map includes well-known attractions such as UNESCO World Heritage Site, Robben Island, where Mandela was imprisoned and Mandela’s house on Vilakazi Street in Soweto, the only street in the world to have had two Nobel Peace Prize winners as residents, Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu.

It also features some of the lesser known attractions such as the Kliptown Open-Air Museum, also in Soweto, which marks the spot where the Freedom Charter was adopted by the Congress of the People. The Nelson Mandela Youth and Heritage Centre in Mandela’s childhood home, Qunu, where he was buried is also featured in the map. Background information, contact details and approximate cover charge information for the various attractions and places of interest are also included. 

“Mandela’s integrity, spirit of hope, reconciliation and love have touched the lives of millions of people. This year we celebrate 20 years of democracy and freedom and we look forward to welcoming many tourists from around the world to share our story and Mandela’s legacy with us. Not only was Nelson Mandela an incredible man and leader, but he is a truly global icon and his name alone put South Africa on the map. Since 1994 visitors from all corners in the globe have come to South Africa to seek out the places that shaped his remarkable life.”

In 1993, the year before Nelson Mandela became South Africa’s first democratically elected president, South Africa had 3.4. million international arrivals. In 2012 South Africa welcomed 13.5 million people to the country, of which close to 9.2 million were tourists (people who spent one or more nights in South Africa).

“The numbers aside though, what has perhaps been our greatest inheritance for tourism is that Mandela has ignited people from all corners of the globe to come and experience South Africa for themselves. It is thanks to his vision and principles that our tourism industry has grown as much as it has since our first democratic elections 20 years ago when he was elected President of South Africa,” adds van Schalkwyk.

“It is also thanks to him that the world now knows South Africa for more than just our incredible wildlife, amazing scenic beauty and excellent value for money. Since 1994 the world has come to realise that what really sets this country apart is Mandela’s people  whose warmth and hospitality leave all who visit touched by Madiba Magic,” the Minister concluded.  


ImageReports released last Wednesday by the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) has indicated that the world tourism industry contributed 7 trillion US dollars to the global economy in 2013, just as it also said the industry is expected to grow by 4.2 per cent in 2014.

The report outlines the economic impact data and forecasts the tourism prospects.

India’s tourism industry is expected to grow by 7.3 per cent in 2014. The total global contribution of Travel and Tourism reached 266 millions in 2013 which is almost 9 per cent of the global employment. One in every 11 jobs in the planet is said to be linked with travel and tourism.

President and CEO of WTTC, David Scowsill said that 2013 proved another successful year for the Industry. “Travel and tourism’s contribution to the world economy grew for the fourth consecutive year in 2013, helped especially by strong demand from international travellers.

Visitor exports, the measure of money spent by these international tourists, rose by 3.9 per cent at a global level year on year, to US$1.3 trillion, and by more than 10 per cent within South East Asia,” he said. “It is clear that the growth in travel and tourism demand from emerging markets continues with pace, as the burgeoning middle-classes, especially from Asia and Latin America, are willing and more able than ever to travel both within and beyond their borders”.

 Travel and tourism forecasts over the next ten years also look extremely favourable, with predicted growth rates of over 4 per cent annually that continue to be higher than growth rates in other industries. “Capitalising on the opportunities for this travel and tourism growth will, of course, require destinations and regional authorities, particularly those in emerging markets, to create favourable business climates for investment in the infrastructure and human resource support necessary to facilitate a successful and sustainable tourism industry,” he said.

“At the national level, governments can also do much to implement more open visa regimes and to employ intelligent rather than punitive taxation policies,” he added.


Theatre arts in Nigeria advocacy group, the Live Theatre on Sunday, at a media parley held at the Federal Palace Hotel last weekend announced the production of the play, “Belong,” for the maiden edition of her Easter Showcase presentations.

According to the Director of the play, Tosan Ugbeye, the play Belong is an ideal Easter treat for theatre lovers. It was written by Bola Agbaje who is a United Kingdom based Nigerian playwright and winner of the 2008 Laurence Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement in an Affiliated theatre.

The play will be showcased for three days starting from the 18th to 20th April, 2014 at the Federal Palace Hotel, Ahmadu Bello Way, Victoria Island by 2pm, 5pm and 7pm respectively.

Ugbeye assured audiences of a thrilling theatre performance that they haven’t seen in recent times saying, they will be treated to the diverse antics of a rich dramatic presentation featuring some of Nigeria’s finest thespians and celebrities including the Vetran actor, Taiwo Ajai-Lycett, Bimbo Akintola, Tunji Sotimirin, Toyin Oshinnaike, OC Ukeje, Dolapo Oni, Opeyemi Dada and Emeka Nwachukwu.

The vibe at the Press Conference was laid-back but friendly, as the cast and crew led by Tosan Ugbeye and Oluwanishola Adenugba, the Producer of the play, fielded questions from the Press.

Ugbeye explained that, the play “Belong” is, to all intents and purposes, a light comedy about identity, stations in life and politics.

“The drama starts out in the London with Kayode Toyin Oshinnaike and Rita Dolapo Oni. The couple is at a low point after moody Kayode has failed in his attempts to achieve election to Parliament after an embarrassing Twitter episode, a theatrical first that will assuredly not be a last.

“As if the depression isn’t enough for a man who has sacrificed his career to misguided allegations about the racism of his equally Black political opponent, comes Bimbo Akintola’s Fola, the first of a pair of truly overpowering Nigerian women, Her job is to sell the country to émigrés and persuade them to come back “home”. And she carries it out with the kind of fearsome relish that makes refusal almost impossible.

“Against his wife’s wishes, Kayode decides to take a reflective break to visit his Mama, portrayed by Taiwo Ajayi-Lycett. Mama has semi-adopted a former “area boy” Kunle played by OC Ukeje, and is trying to turn him into a local politician with a brief to modernize and remove corruption.

“The African curse is embodied in the wolfish person of Chief Olowolaye played by Tunji Sotimirin, looking uncannily like Eddie Murphy in Coming to America but behaving more like a Nigerian relative of The Godfather.

The 75 minute-long play tells of the challenges of being a diasporian, deals with love, and explores the theme of gained and missed opportunities. It also questions the notions of identity as many people go through life questioning where they truly belong.

Live Theatre on Sunday” according to Adenugba is an “avant-garde theatre project inspired by the resurgence in the appreciation of the theatre arts which started since 2008. The objective of the project, he said is to “present spectacular stage play performances on topical issues, thus contributing significantly to the revival of this art form in our society.”

He noted also that, the series has previously featured notable talents in the Nigerian entertainment industry such as Yinka Davies, Gabriel Afolayan, Matse Uwatse, Igos, Omonor Somolu, Ego and so on in many productions including J.P. Clark’s “Song of a Goat”, “The Wives’ Revolt”, Ola Rotimi’s Our Husband Has Gone Mad Again, Grip Am, Man Talk Woman Talk and most recently, Zulu Sofola’s The Wizard of Law, Wole Soyinka’s The Trials of Brother Jero and Adebola Ogunshina’s Konkortion.


As part of its commitment to supporting fiction and other forms of literary works, telecommunications firm in Nigeria, Etisalat, last weekend lifted celebrations marking the 2014 edition of the Woman Rising Initiative which held last weekend at the Wheatbaker Hotel, Lagos.

The event, now in its fourth edition, which is powered by The Life House as part of activities celebrating the International Women’s Day through various aspects of the arts also provided platform for the celebration of women writers in the country.

“Etisalat Prize for Literature was designed to recognize and reward debut writers of fiction in Africa, with the objective of discovering new creative talents and promoting the growing publishing industry on the continent. Sequel to the recently concluded Etisalat Prize for Literature, people asked how the Prize for Literature had three shortlisted female finalists. I believe it is a testament to the literary ability of the African woman.

“The year 2013 was an interesting year for women in literature; and the emergence of three female finalists for the Etisalat prize for Literature further depicts the depth in creativity. Etisalat believes firmly in how art and culture foretell creative ideas and as such, is proud to be an active sponsor for the literary arts through the Woman Rising Initiative,” said Ebi Atawodi, the Head of High Value Events and Sponsorships, Etisalat Nigeria, at the event.

She added that Etisalat was proud to sponsor the Woman Rising initiative; a 21st century cause celebrating the literary prowess in women.

Co-founder and curator for The Life House, Ugoma Adegoke, thanked the telecoms firm for its  support of arts and culture through the Woman Rising Initiative.

According to her, “the arts have the power to heal, delight, create joy and togetherness; offering a unique quality of life for our children and ourselves. As such, I am grateful to our main sponsors, Etisalat Nigeria, for their continued support in our drive to seek strategic and sustainable support of arts and culture in Nigeria.”

To spice up the occasion, various women from different works of life read short stories, poems and exciting excerpts from various female authors. One of such writers was Flash Fiction expert, Molara Wood, who read excerpts from some of her stories, including Fear Hill and Indigo.


ImageBorn December 10, 1984 to Nigerian parents, writer Helen Olajumoke Oyeyemi was raised in the United Kingdom, her adopted nationality. She wrote her first novel, The Icarus Girl, while still at school studying for her A levels at Cardinal Vaughan Memorial School. While studying Social and Political Sciences at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, in the United Kingdom, two of her plays, Juniper’s Whitening and Victimese, were performed by fellow students to critical acclaim and subsequently published by Methuen.In 2007 Bloomsbury published Oyeyemi’s second novel, The Opposite House, which is inspired by Cuban mythology. In 2009 Oyeyemi was recognized as one of the women on Venus Zine’s “25 under 25” list.Her third novel, White is for Witching was published by Picador in May 2009. It was a 2009 Shirley Jackson Award finalist and won a 2010 Somerset Maugham Award. A fourth novel, Mr Fox, was published by Picador in June 2011. In 2013 she was included in the Granta Best Of Young British Novelists list.Oyeyemi is a lifelong Catholic who has done voluntary work for CAFOD in Kenya.In this interview, Helen says: “If there’s going to be a fray, I can’t help but approve of someone who enters it headlong.”


What books are currently on your night stand?

The Collected Stories of Jean Stafford; The Pawnbroker, by Edward Lewis Wallant; The Falcon, by John Tanner; Hawthorn & Child, by Keith Ridgway. And a little antique pocket edition of Rossetti’s Goblin Market that I’ve kept close to me ever since it arrived in my life. (A dear friend sent it to me when I was living in Budapest, and somehow it was exactly what I needed to find in my postbox after battling a midnight infestation of baby ants.)

What was the last truly great book you read?

Susan Reynolds’s translation of Kytice (Bouquet), Karel Erben’s classic cycle of Czech folk tales in verse. I don’t really know how to describe these stories, except that most of them are profoundly strange, with outcomes that you shrink from rather than anticipate, and so you simply pause from time to time to make peace with your goose bumps. The very particular rhythm of the verse contributes to its effect, which makes the translation all the more impressive.

What are your literary guilty pleasures? Do you have a favourite genre?

I’m keen on Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe books, though in fact Archie Goodwin’s narration is a pleasure to be enjoyed entirely without guilt. An example: “Her talk is something special. Not only do you never know what she will say next; she doesn’t know herself. One evening I kissed her, a good healthy kiss, and when we broke she said, ‘I saw a horse kiss a cow once.’ ”

Which books might we be surprised to find on your shelves?

Perhaps the Mrs. Beeton cookbook, since its owner doesn’t really, you know, cook.

The last book that made you cry?

Diana Athill’s Make Believe: A True Story. Both the story and Athill’s inimitable way of telling it; stark and tender by turns. There’s a lot to the book, character study, memoir, attempt to comprehend tragedy, and it leaves you with a grief that bypasses tears and keeps you up at night.

The last book that made you furious?

It was actually two fairy tales back to back that did it; Catherine and Her Destiny and The Slave Mother. In both tales a woman is asked to choose between happiness in her youth and happiness in old age, makes her choice and then has to swallow a large dose of suffering. As I read them I started to become suspicious that this choice, and its consequences, were being posited as some intrinsic aspect of womanhood, and I started to get into a frightful mood about it. I kept thinking that nothing and no one could ever force me to make such a choice; why should I or any other woman have to, and so forth. But then I found that in the story of the medieval knight Sir Isumbras he’s asked to choose between happiness in youth and happiness in old age too, so that evens things out a bit. Though I still think refusal is the only way to handle such matters.

What kind of reader were you as a child? And what were your favourite childhood books?

I was ravenous: Sweet Valley High; Noel Streatfeild; L. M. Montgomery; Judy Blume; all and any orphan-girl stories; The Baby-Sitters Club; the adventures of Ramona Quimby and those of Anastasia Krupnik (it was Anastasia Krupnik who first introduced me to Wordsworth); Peter Pan; The Chronicles of Narnia. I recently reread The Horse and His Boy, and it’s just as good as it was back then.

Whom do you consider your literary heroes?

Dumas’s d’Artagnan is most certainly one, on account of the fact that on his very first day in Paris he managed to anger three men enough to challenge him to duel to the death — and then fixed exactly the same time and place for each duel. If there’s going to be a fray, I can’t help but approve of someone who enters it headlong.

Which novels have had the most impact on you as a writer?

I can say which books have had a significant impact on the way I read (I’d love for them to have an effect on what I write too, but that only seems to happen very slowly, if at all). From the early days, Little Women and Alice in Wonderland. As a teenager, Poe’s short stories; Sheridan Le Fanu’s In a Glass Darkly (which contains Green Tea and The Familiar, two stories full of some of the most troubling stuff concerning categories of sensory perception I’ve ever read); Ntozake Shange’s For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow Is Enuf; Zbigniew Herbert’s droll and quietly devastating book of poems Mr. Cogito; and Gustav Meyrink’s The Golem. I was very struck — still am — by the angle The Golem takes on monstrosity. More recently, Dezso Kosztolanyi’s Anna Edes; Kelly Link’s Stranger Things Happen; Barbara Comyns’s The Vet’s Daughter; Aimee Bender’s The Girl in the Flammable Skirt; and Jesse Ball’s Samedi the Deafness.

You’re hosting a literary dinner party. Which three writers are invited?

S. J. Perelman, Rose Macaulay and Marina Endicott — I have a feeling these three would get along famously, since their writing has linguistic deftness, acute humour and this wonderful generosity towards human quirks and flaws in common.

And if you could bring only three books to a desert island, which would you choose?

The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson, Malory’s Le Mort d’Arthur and Amy Vanderbilt’s Complete Book of Etiquette (that last to remind me of society).

What book are you most eagerly anticipating this year?

It’s a tie between Sarah Waters’s The Paying Guests and Marilynne Robinson’s Lila. Their publication dates make autumn feel very far away.


ImageBorn Obayemi Babajide Adetokunbo Onafuwa, on June 27, 1975 in Michigan, United States, the Nigerian-American writer, photographer, and art historian is the one Nigeria’s brightest literary artistes with prizes like the 2012 PEN/Hemingway Award; the 2012 New York City Book Award for Fiction; and the 2013 International Literature Award. In this interview, the photographer and author of Open City and Every Day Is for the Thief says the novel is overrated.

 What books are currently on your night stand?

I just got in the Selected Poems of Bill Manhire, who is from New Zealand. He’s a mature poet with his own voice, but his unobtrusive authority and his tenderness remind me of Seamus Heaney. I’m teaching Intermediate Fiction at Bard this semester, and I’ve assigned Alice Munro, Jhumpa Lahiri, Petina Gappah, Lydia Davis and Stephanie Vaughn. So I’m rereading them, too.

Who is your favourite novelist of all time? And your favourite novelist writing today?

Penelope Fitzgerald was the author of several slim, perfect novels. The Blue Flower and The Beginning of Spring both had me abuzz for days the first time I read them. She was curiously perfect. Among living novelists, my favourites include J. M. Coetzee, Michael Ondaatje and Michel Tournier, none of whom need my praise. I cherish James Salter’s short stories, and his every sentence.

Sell us on your favourite overlooked or underappreciated writer.

Lydia Davis is famous, but not nearly famous enough. Ditto Anne Carson. It’s notable that neither of them is really a novelist; “the novel” is overrated, and the writers I find most interesting find ways to escape it.

Have you read any good contemporary poetry lately?

I’m very pleased to have encountered in the past couple of years the work of two astounding young poets, each of whom has one book out: Ishion Hutchinson (Far District) and Rowan Ricardo Phillips (The Ground). Both have impressive reserves of insight and the language to bring those insights to life. They are the future of American poetry.

And I’m glad I finally got round to reading Stag’s Leap, by Sharon Olds. There is the feeling that one gets when one “discovers” a new song only to realize it has a million views on YouTube already. Stag’s Leap was awarded both the Pulitzer Prize and the T. S. Eliot Prize last year. But the book is new to me, and I love it.

Which recent books by or about photographers would you recommend?

Wall, by Josef Koudelka; Sergio Larrain (a monograph on the reclusive Chilean genius, who died in 2012); and The Sochi Project: An Atlas of War and Tourism in the Caucasus, by Rob Hornstra and Arnold van Bruggen.

I wrote the introductory essay to Richard Renaldi’s Touching Strangers. Nevertheless, it is an excellent book. Ivan Vladislavic’s novel Double Negative is another great book that wasn’t marred by my introduction.

What are your literary guilty pleasures? Do you have a favourite genre?

No guilt. I read many kinds of things, but my deepest happiness is in reading poetry.

What are your favourite art history books?

I was trained in art history and still get a great deal of joy from reading it. The best art history books, I feel, are as good as the best novels. Among the most illuminating for me are the following: The Limewood Sculptors of Renaissance Germany, by Michael Baxandall; The Power of Images in the Age of Augustus, by Paul Zanker; The Painting of Modern Life, by T. J. Clark; The Moment of Self-Portraiture in German Renaissance Art, by Joseph Leo Koerner; and Inside Bruegel, by Edward Snow. The last of these, a startling interpretation of Bruegel’s Children’s Games, is great for nonspecialist readers.

What was the last book to make you laugh?

Rob Delaney’s Rob Delaney: Mother. Wife. Sister. Human. Warrior. Falcon. Yardstick. Turban. Cabbage.

The last book that made you cry?

There’s a passage late in Amitava Kumar’s A Matter of Rats that took me by surprise.

The last book that made you furious?

Dirty Wars, by Jeremy Scahill.

What kind of reader were you as a child? And what were your favourite childhood books?

I began early, around 6, and by the time I was 10 I had read Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart, Charles and Mary Lamb’s Tales From Shakespeare and an abridged edition of Tom Sawyer. I wasn’t a prodigy, but I developed a sense that access to any book was limited only by my interest and my willingness to concentrate.

Whom do you consider your literary heroes?

They are many: Michael Ondaatje, most of all. But also Marguerite Yourcenar, John Berger and Seamus Heaney.

If you could require the president to read one book, what would it be?

I suppose at least a little faith in literature’s ability to make us better is what lies behind this question. But I have no such faith. The president has already read many wonderful books from many different cultures. Now we need him to act justly in certain matters: to stop killing people extra-judicially, and to stop deporting people with such enthusiasm. I doubt that more reading will quicken his conscience in these matters.

You’re hosting a literary dinner party. Which three writers are invited?

Alice Oswald, Laila Lalami and Zadie Smith.

You’ve got an active Twitter account going. Does it influence your thinking or writing process?

I suppose it must. It’s such a combative place at times that it makes me less worried about putting ideas out into the world. You realize that anything you have to say is going to annoy some stranger, so you might as well speak your mind. But being active on Twitter also means that the literary part of my brain, the part that tries to make good sentences, is engaged all the time. My memory is worse than it was a few years ago, but I hope that my ability to write a good sentence has improved.

What books are you embarrassed not to have read yet?

I have not read most of the big 19th-century novels that people consider “essential,” nor most of the 20th-century ones for that matter. But this does not embarrass me. There are many films to see, many friends to visit, many walks to take, many playlists to assemble and many favourite books to reread. Life’s too short for anxious score-keeping. Also, my grandmother is illiterate, and she’s one of the best people I know. Reading is a deep personal consolation for me, but other things console, too.


Interview courtesy: The GuardianUK