What I learned from my meeting with Agboola is that it does not feel good to predict human failings and for them to turn out to be true, especially when there are people striving so hard to overcome these failings and to create a better world for their fellow citizens. Here was a man daring to dream, and in my fiction I had snuffed out that dream. This in a country currently wracked by the militant Islamic group Boko Haram and the dreaded Ebola virus. There is little courage in presaging that things will turn out for the worse.
But it is not so easy to write positive stories, either, because fiction thrives on conflict. If every character gets along fine, the tension will dissipate and the reader will stop turning the page. It would have been far more challenging for me to envision a better Nigeria in fiction, or at least a different one.
As I left the space center, Agboola asked me to tell the world about his program. Tell me, would you have read that story? Will you read it if I write it?
Deji Bryce Olukotun writing for Slate Magazine about meeting Dr Olufemi Agboola, the director of engineering and space systems at Nigeria’s National Space Research and Development Agency, and almost a doppelganger for the main character of his novel Nigerians in Space.
The novel is one of our top titles by Nigerian authors to watch out for in 2014 - see the full list here.
Nigerian writer Sefi Atta interviewed by ELLE South Africa
- Q: What stories do you want to hear coming out of Africa?
- Sefi Atta: Surprising, I want to be surprised. I want to read about an African divorce. I want to see work that’s less politically driven because it shows the writer is brave enough to write that without being worried the story wont be picked up because it’s not political.
Haruki Murakami answers questions on his writing at the Edinburgh Book Festival
- Question: What is good about being a novelist?
- Haruki Murakami: No commuting, no meetings, no boss.