Host of #WithChude, Chude Jideonwo, sits with Arinze Ifeakandu, author of God’s Children Are Little Broken Things on a new episode of #ChudesBookClub.
On why Buchi Emecheta’s, The Joys of Motherhood stands out for him powerfully as a writer, he said, “One of the things that happened to me when I went to get my masters was like I was living in this place with a lot of writers and there’s this sense in which I began to think of storytelling as this clinical thing which was a profession. But that period took away the magic of literature from me, which is why I had always thought of literature as magical.
Then when I think of “The Joys of Motherhood” and the experience I had while reading that book, I’m like literature is really magical. Although I was privy to the experiences of the women in my life, but what that book was for me as a 13-year-old who was reading it was to sort of synthesize those experiences into a singular action. I could just see cause and effect play out in real time and I was like this is the effect of what our society does to people this is how it affects people. I could actually see it in the reality of the people around me. I was like, if literature can do that to me even long before I knew about the word feminism which of course I knew when I started listening to Chimamanda. So, long before I knew that word, I already had an experience or perhaps some kind of empathy you know for the female situation. So, there are not many books like that for me that sort of strike at the heart of a person and say, ‘Hey you have to actually look at the world.’
Arinze shared about the culture of secrecy in Nigeria, “I think we have a culture of secrecy, where you see someone who is sick and they are like, ‘don’t tell anyone’. Generally, we have a warped thinking around sex, I hope that is changing a lot now. When we were growing up, people were like, ‘don’t have sex’, but now, everyone is out with their penises on Twitter. We also have a culture of shame and I think that is what a lot of families deal with. Before I came out to my mum, a part of my anxiety was that, ‘my mum is a very sensitive woman. I am saying this in a very good way, because sensitivity is a wonderful thing, but it can also be a very emotional thing. I am sure that she is going to be feeling sad that people will be judging her child. I was just like, is there a way that I can make her feel like it doesn’t matter? Because I had gone through that journey of coming out of that place of shame and coming out to my friends and choir mates even when I was in UNN. So, I had already dealt with it.”
Regarding his writing style, Arinze said, “First and foremost, I was writing for mostly my own entertainment so I’m having fun here. I’m creating the world that I wish to see. I’m writing about these characters that have inhabited my mind for quite some time and with whom I have like this sort of intimate relationship and so there was no need to sort of explain things to anybody because I had a perfect understanding between myself and my characters. That was like the sense I had”.
“I didn’t have the anxiety of not writing a relatable story to other people. I think for the longest time even before I began to actually write stories and when I was still telling them, I felt like people have always related to my stories. So, I remember in University, I would write the early versions of these stories in this new collection and I had friends who did not share my particular experience and then other friends who were at least quite kind of homophobic. The very first of my encounter with them and when they read some of my stories they would say, “Why is this boy talking to this boy and telling him I love you but then I understand, why did this boy break up with him. I want to read the next one, when will he write the next one?”, he added.
Watch the excerpt here