Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani

Nigerian novelist

Adaobi Tricia Obinne Nwaubani (born 1976) is a Nigerian novelist, humorist, essayist and journalist.


  • My novel came before the story: I decided to write a novel before I knew what to write about. The story wasn’t burning in my heart or bursting to be let loose on the page. It didn’t feel like there was this one story that I had to tell. But I have always been fascinated by why people do the things they do. While trying to come up with ideas for my novel, I decided on a story that explored that.
  • It would have to be one of those dangerous pieces of advice that people dish out all over the place. A particularly popular one is: Follow your heart. What if the person’s heart is leading them into a dungeon of doom? What if the person’s heart is filled with foolishness? ‘Follow your heart’ is not just unwise counsel; it is a recipe for anarchy. Imagine a world where each of us followed our heart to wherever it led us, without caring for the people around us or the laws of the land.
  • Everyone can tell a story, but the skillful use of words is what I usually find captivating when reading a piece. The imagery. The alliteration. The emotion. The quotable quotes. Think Shakespeare. Think the Pied Piper of Hamelin. The skillful placing of word against word is what builds the masterpiece and turns a story into a memorable work of art. I often tell people how fascinated I was with Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things. But while I have absolutely no recollection of the plot, I still remember how struck I was by her use of words. Her writing was pure art.
  • I spit out everything onto the page, from beginning to end, and then go back and edit. I’m one of those people who like to tick off things on my to-do list; so, it helps me psychologically to get to the end first, and then settle down to revise.
  • I Do Not Come To You By Chance is set in the world of Nigeria’s 419 scammers. It was a world I was very familiar with having grown up in South East­ern Nigeria. There were lots of people, lots of young men I knew who were going to, who were 419 scammers. So I wanted to write a story of how people from good homes, people from the kind of home I came from could become international financial terror­ists.
  • If it was authoritarian for the Nigerian government to ban the use of Twitter, it was even more problematic for an American swivelling in a chair in Silicon Valley to poke their finger into the internal affairs of a sovereign African state.
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