Chigozie Obioma

Nigerian writer

Chigozie Obioma (born 1968) is a Nigerian writer and assistant professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.


  • I've always wanted to write something that will show the world that prior to the coming of the British to Nigeria, we had some kind of complex systems. I feel like there hasn't been an African version of, say, Milton's "Paradise Lost" which actually explored the very foundational principle of Western civilization, which would be the free will. Or even Dante Alighieri's "Inferno." So I wanted to write something cosmological, and the chi has been very fascinating to me. It was very difficult, it entailed a lot of research, even down to actually going to shrines and interviewing the last adherents of Odinani, the Igbo religion, now that most Africans are converts to either Christianity or Islam…
  • I believe that some of the strongest stories we can have begin with very simple archetypes…The great mother, or the great father, for example. And you work your way from that, slowly, to more complexity. The idea of this guy who wants to be with the woman he loves – you can say the same of the movie Gladiator, for instance. If you strip everything down to the basics, it’s just about Maximus wanting to go back to his wife and every other thing stopping him. Even Homer’s Odyssey; he just wants to go back and the entire universe is conspiring against that ambition.
  • People always ask me, why do your stories end this way? And honestly…I want to write a feelgood story. But I think that because I’m fascinated with the metaphysics of existence, I keep thinking why, of all the people who came to Cyprus, was it Jay who died? Or, I read not too long ago of a nine-year-old doing her homework and there’s a drive-by shooting and a bullet comes in through the roof and kills her. She didn’t do anything to deserve that fate. When you think about these things, and you want to write fiction around that, the path it takes you to can feel inevitable and tragic.

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