World Book Day Recommendations: “Five Books That Have Influenced My Craft” — Jerry Chiemeke
Nigerian writer and editor, Jerry Chiemeke recommends five books that have influenced his craft for Book O’Clock’s World Book Day Recommendations.
Jerry Chiemeke is an editor, communications enthusiast, columnist and lawyer. His work has appeared in the Johannesburg Review of Books, The Republic, The Guardian, The Lagos Review, Inlandia Journal, and Music in Africa, among others. Jerry lives in Lagos, Nigeria with an imaginary cat called Lewis. He is the author of the short story collection "Dreaming Of Ways To Understand You" and the poetry chapbook "Notes for Nnedimma".
For me, the 5 Books that have really spoken to me, and in some ways influenced my craft, include:
1. An African Night’s Entertainment by Cyprian Ekwensi
This novel made me feel like I was on a journey across parts of Northern Nigeria. The themes were poignant and the storytelling was fluid.
2. The Thing Around Your Neck by Chimamanda Adichie
Once I read this book, I knew that I was always going to write and publish a short story collection. I was really drawn to "On Monday of Last Week" and "Jumping Monkey Hill”. One of the stories in my collection, "Dreaming Of Ways To Understand You", has an ending written in a style inspired by "The Headstrong Historian".
3. The Book of Night Women by Marlon James
In terms of language, this book does it for me. It defies convention. It's what made me want to write in pidgin, and ultimately get "Ugborikoko" published in the Johannesburg Review of Books.
4. Burnt Men by Romeo Oriogun
There was a rawness in this chapbook that moved me to write my first full manuscript, which was introspective in itself. It’s a body of work that ages well.
5. A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway
The pain in this book, and the haunting nature of Hemingway’s prose, directly influences the themes that people find in my work. There’s a bleakness that keeps us going.
World Book Day Recommendations is a series of book recommendations made by African contemporary writers to mark World Book Day, 2021 and #365DaysOfBookOclock.