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Uzodinma (Uzo) Iweala is the author of Beasts of No Nation. The novel, his debut, came out of his undergraduate thesis work at Harvard and was conducted under the supervision[…]

Iweala talks about Beckket, Malloy, Morrison and Achebe and how our culture is too saturated with information to engage with their works.

Question: Who are some authors that inspire you?

Uzodinma Iweala: We live in a society where time is never something that anybody has; you know, and where everything should be like now, now, now – instant gratification – and not . . . I mean it’s things like books, for example. Like Beckett's "Molloy" or “Things Fall Apart”. Or take anything by Toni Morrison. Those books often don’t get the attention they should because people are so into, “I want the pleasure. I want the pleasure.” And sometimes the pleasure is in the delay of pleasure . . . You know it’s in the . . . Let’s . . . you know let me sit with this. Let me marinate on this for a little bit and see . . . see what it brings out; see the different things it brings out of me instead of the reaction that I’ve been told I shouldn’t have and that I know I have. That’s not to say that’s bad. I mean like that’s a particular form of entertainment; but it’s one that I think is overdone in our society. And I think for me I can’t be entertained in that way all the time, you know? I need . . . Like that’s good sometimes. Sometimes you just wanna go out, see your action movie, be done with it, come home. You know and like you see “The Matrix” or whatever, you see whatever film it is, and you’re like, “Oh cool,” whatever. And then you come home and you’re like, “That was great.” But if that’s how it is all the time; if you’re bombarded with these images all the time; if you’re bombarded with stories that are like them all the time, you kind of . . . you feel a little bit empty inside. And I think there . . . there are other stories, other songs, other things that are not just made for you to dance to. They’re made for you to sit and really listen to. They’re made . . . there are books that are made for you to sit and puzzle over and spend time with. There are, you know . . . like and those . . . those, I think, we need to, as a society, pay more attention to.

Recorded on: 10/7/07


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