World Book Day Recommendations: “Five Books I Love” — Echezonachukwu Nduka
For World Book Day, 2021 and #365DaysOfBookOclock, we asked Nigerian poet and pianist, Echezonachukwu Nduka to share with us five books that has either shaped his writing or he generally loves.
Echezonachukwu Nduka, poet and classical pianist, is the author of Chrysanthemums for Wide-eyed Ghosts and Waterman. He holds degrees in Music from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka and Kingston University London, UK.
In 2016, Echezonachukwu Nduka was awarded the Korea-Nigeria Poetry Prize on World Poetry Day. Hailed by the Guardian Life Magazine as ‘Artist Extraordinaire’, his works have been published in The Indianapolis Review, Transition, River River, Bombay Review, The Village Square Journal, Bakwa Magazine, Saraba, Jalada Language Anthology, 20.35 Africa: An Anthology of Contemporary Poetry Vol. II, A Thousand Voices Rising: An Anthology of Contemporary African Poetry, among others.
He can be found online at www.artnduka.com.
Deaf Republic (Poetry) by Ilya Kaminsky
The depth of imagination, innovation, and skill expressed in the collection continues to astonish. With regard to thematic and narrative cohesion in poetry collections, Deaf Republic stands out as an excellent paradigm. In fact, it is drama in poetry, or perhaps—poetry as drama and vice versa. I often return to the book not only as a reader, but also as a lifelong student of poetry. It takes a great deal of brilliance to write about terror, rage, insurgency, and brutality with such an arresting sublimity.
I am drawn to the quality of questions Ilya Kaminsky asks, the many ways in which he retells the familiar, casting light on the dark corners of humanity which we query or choose to ignore.
The Black Unicorn (Poetry) by Audre Lorde
One of my best poems, A Litany for Survival, is published in this collection. Here’s a book that has, to an extent, shaped how I approach my writing. Audre Lorde’s complex identities deeply influenced the way she took account of the world in her poetry. The book continues to point me towards the endless manifestations of beauty in simplicity, and the exalted place of history in poetry.
The Arrivants: A New World Trilogy (Poetry) by Edward Kamau Brathwaite
Deliberate and unapologetic in his use of language, Braithwaite’s poetry leaves no reader in doubt about his affinities to his ancestry and world view. I have tried a few times to choose a favourite poem in the book and failed. Each time I read him, it feels like I am in a master class. In addition to the profound imagery here, his sense of musicality is rare to find. And of course, it’s refreshing to witness on the page, the many facets of Afro-Caribbean and African history, religions, cities, and philosophies.
Broken Glass (Fiction) by Alain Mabanckou
It is not every day that one gets the chance to read a novel as brilliant as Mabanckou’s Broken Glass. Witty, poetic, and quite hilarious, the author’s narrative style is unique. The book’s unorthodox punctuation and characterization are worth studying very closely, particularly by writers of fiction. It’s such a page-turner.
A Way of Being Free (Non-Fiction) by Ben Okri
The book is, for me, a testament to the philosophical merits of Ben Okri. There’s often more to the weight and brevity of his sentences, certain paragraphs.
Whether he’s writing about the beauty of storytelling, of poets and poetry, of writing, of freedom, magic, of redreaming the world; I am fascinated by how his writing catapults me to a new plane of reasoning. In this book, as is the case in most of his works, his writing forces you to think.
This is one book I read once every year, at least—and the experience is always new. If there’s a book I’ll recommend to every creative, curious mind, or literary enthusiast, it is this one.
World Book Day Recommendations is a series of book recommendations made by African contemporary writers for World Book Day, 2021 and Book O’Clock’s anniversary.