BOOK’D: LEYE ADENLE
Nigerian author Leye Adenle is most known for his crime novel Easy Motion Tourist. I enjoyed reading his interview and burst out laughing at many of his comments. He shares his heartfelt thoughts about book clubs, the one author whose fiction he has ever re-read and the one book he cannot stop recommending! Enjoy. I know you will.
1. What are you currently reading? Do you usually read more than one book at a time?
I usually read two books at a time; one fiction and one non-fiction.
2. Have you always been a reader? What is the first book you remember ever reading? What drew you into reading/why do you read?
I’m not sure I can remember the first book I read. I do remember the first book that blew my mind and it was Amos Tutuola’s The Palm Wine Drinkard. I was at once fascinated and excited to read the deliciously magical story told intentionally with ungrammatical English. It was like a moment of revelation for me.
3. What is your philosophy on reading? (for example, some people have to finish every book they start)
I have been known to walk out of a cinema minutes into a movie. I find it even less difficult to walk away from a book that’s not working for me. This is in no way a judgment on the quality of the writing or the story. Some things are just not for some people.
I have been known to walk out of a cinema minutes into a movie. I find it even less difficult to walk away from a book that’s not working for me. - @LeyeAdenle Click To Tweet
4. How often do you read? And how do you fit it into your day?
I’m always reading something, usually in the morning and late in the evening. The exception is when I’m writing a new book. I don’t read anything then.
5. Where do you like to read? Where’s the weirdest place you’ve ever read a book?
On the train on the way to work is my favorite place to read. Also, bus journeys. I can’t think of a weird place I’ve read. I’m assuming weird would have to be something like in a funeral procession, while bungee jumping or making love or something like that. No. I tend to do my reading in normal, safe, non-controversial places.I tend to do my reading in normal, safe, non-controversial places - @LeyeAdenle Click To Tweet
6. What makes a good book, in your opinion?
For me a good book is one that lures me into the fictive dream from the beginning and never lets go till the end. And throughout the time I’m there in the world the writer has created, nothing, not one word, not one misplaced comma, not one full stop as much as threatens to jar me into reality.For me a good book is one that lures me into the fictive dream from the beginning and never lets go till the end. Click To Tweet
7. Who are your favorite authors to read?
James Patterson. Chinua Achebe. Yuri Herrera. Jorge Louis Borges. Chinua Achebe (yeah, he features multiple times).
8. What is a book or who is an author you wish more people knew about/read?
The Transmigration of Bodies by Yuri Herrera. Mind, flipping, blowing.
9. E-book, audiobook or paper? How do you feel about making notes/highlighting books?
I love books, solid, paper, hardback books, but I love trees as well. I buy my non-fiction books as e-books and my fiction ones as paper. I’ve never listened to an audiobook. Perhaps I’ll make it a challenge for this year.
I love books, solid, paper, hardback books, but I love trees as well. I buy my non-fiction books as e-books and my fiction ones as paper. Click To Tweet
10. Fiction vs Non-fiction?
That’s not fair.
11. What happens to you when you read a good book? (at the beginning, during and after the experience?)
At the beginning of a new book I get excited. That tingly feeling of discovery. In the middle I don’t know what I’m feeling because the book is all that exists for me in the entire universe. At the end I just want to spread the word. I often buy copies of great books I’ve read and give them out to people who might not read them otherwise. I cannot remember how many copies of The White Tiger I gave out. I do not loan out my own books. I stopped that madness many years ago.I often buy copies of great books I’ve read and give them out to people who might not read them otherwise. - @LeyeAdenle Click To Tweet
12. Do you reread books? Why?
I re-read Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart every couple of years or so. He’s the only fiction author I have re-read. Thinking about it now, I want to re-read A Man of the People. His best book in my estimation.
13. What book do you wish you could experience again for the first time?
Yuri Herrera’s Transmigration of Bodies. Read it. Please. Thank me later.
14. What was the last great book you read?
Again, Yuri Herrera’s Transmigration of Bodies. This is book just wow.
15. If you had to choose three books that everyone should read, what would they be?
Yuri Herrera’s Transmigration of Bodies – because the writing will blow your mind.
John Le Carre’s The Spy Who Came in from the Cold – because you haven’t read a spy thriller told so well.
Leye Adenle’s Easy Motion Tourist – because I want to sell enough copies to be able to keep writing more books ☺
16. What book(s) are you embarrassed to have read? What books are you embarrassed to still not have read?
I simply don’t read stuff I’m not feeling. There is no book I’m embarrassed to have read. I was slightly upset when later in life, I discovered the racist elements in Robinson Crusoe, I first read it as a child, but I’m not embarrassed to have read it and loved it at the time, even listing it amongst my favorite books.I simply don’t read stuff I’m not feeling. There is no book I’m embarrassed to have read. Click To Tweet
My copy of Catch 22 is always prominently placed so that I cannot but see it and remember to try to read past the opening chapter this year. This year has been every year for many, many years now. But you know what? I’m not embarrassed not to have managed to get through it. I guess on some level, you need to be a child of the war to really get it.
17. How do you feel about ‘classic’ literature?
What we call classics today were the genre fiction of their time. Think about it.What we call classics today were the genre fiction of their time. Think about it. Click To Tweet
18. How do you feel about book clubs?
I love book clubs. I’ve never belonged to one but as a writer, I love the idea of them. The idea of a group of people who love books so much they form a society around them. I love them. I have been invited to some and each time I always feel the same thing; gratitude, humility, love.
19. What book(s) have remarkably changed your perspective on a given subject or life in general and how?
This is a tough one. A book that tries to teach me something often loses me once I sense the approaching preaching. I love my fiction to remain fiction. Bombard me with all the subliminal messages you can cram into a damn good story, but feed me a damn good story first. And that way, perhaps some books have changed me profoundly in some specific areas, but I wouldn’t know it.A book that tries to teach me something often loses me once I sense the approaching preaching. I love my fiction to remain fiction. Click To Tweet
20. How do you choose books to read?
By the cover. Always by the cover.
21. What books are currently on your to-be-read list?
I’m too embarrassed to list them. There is a growing pile by my bed, on a shelf, atop a wardrobe in my bedroom, and on my mind. Perhaps this year I’ll finally finish Catch-22.
Leye Adenle, a Nigerian writer living in London, won the Prix Marianne in France for his first novel, Easy Motion Tourist (Cassava Republic Press, 2016). He has written for the BBC world service, BBC Radio 4, and for publications such as The Big Issue. He was a finalist for the 2016 CWA short story dagger award for his short story, The Assassin (Sunshine Noir, White Sun Books, 2017).
Connect with Leye
Book’d is a weekly bookish interview series seeking to foster conversation on books and reading. Read the last interview with writer and editor, Temitope Owolabi aka eclectictope.