How would you describe your next novel?
It’s kind of a tragic love story between an Arab-Canadian and a Nigerian. The title comes from the idea that, even after 50 years after independence, there are still a lot of questions on race in the land where I’m from.
Do you still have a Nigerian household even though you’ve grown up in Canada?
I still have a host of relatives in my home country. I go to their places often; I’m able to tell stories that are connected to the watery home, and they are allowed to tell stories.
I had a dinner with my in-laws; we talked about poverty and race and sex-ploitation. It was important to get that, I felt.
Have you always had a strong connection to your home country?
In adulthood, I have been asked to help write an a story that looks at the advantages of being born abroad. But before that, I spent a year living in the north and researching old Islamist insurgencies.
Sometimes the activists of that time would not agree to see me, even though I knew exactly what they were saying. For many, it was a religion and ethnicity and Northern Nigeria is an extension of that – there’s a shared sense of history.
Why have you been involved in literary writing since you were a child?
I come from an artistic family, and we always had an appreciation for writing and some stories were carried along with us. For me it was something that I had always known.
When I was a child I knew that I wanted to write. When I got into university, I started doing what I wanted to do. Writing was my hobby and I decided to have the degree, which was fine.
What are you worried about as a writer?