By Henry Akubuiro

Toni Kan, the author of over 20 books across genres, is a novelist, poet, short story writer and biographer, and currently works as a PR expert with the Nigerian telecom giant, Globacom. The multiple award-winning writer took some time off his busy schedule to respond to questions on his reading habit and writings. 

What’s the first book you read as a child? 

I started reading very early. My father had a library of over 500 books. There was always a book to read. But the ones that made an impact were when I was 11 years old and my father sent me three books to read. I had just entered secondary school then as a class 1 student. One was Ben Okri’s Flowers and Shadows. Another was by Lauretta Ngocobo’s Cross of Gold and Isidore Okpewho’s The Last Duty. These were the ones that really struck a chord. 

Who were your favourite childhood characters in fiction? 

I was initially drawn to books written by whites as a child. I would say Poke Tohola in James Hadley Chase’s Born to Stay Alive, who said, “Fear is a key locked in the pocket of the rich.” He was a very interesting, resourceful and funny character. There is also the character, Jefia, in Ben Okri’s Flowers and Shadows

Which books have you read more than once

I have read the Bible about four times. It’s my favourite book. I have read TS Eliot’s Wasteland several times. I have also read Birthday Letters by Ted Hughes several times. I read it all the time. It’s a regular companion if I am travelling, or I take along the other books mentioned. 

Who’s your favourite African author? 

I am cautious of answering this question, because I don’t want anybody to say I didn’t mention his name. But Ben Okri was instrumental to me being a writer, though I am not reading his current works now.

How has reading impacted your writings

You can’t be a writer if you can’t read. Everything I have become in terms of literary works is because I read at a very young age. I consumed a variety of writings: fiction, nonfiction, fantasy, children’s literature. So the range of my writings also show that influence from reading widely.  

Why do you read? 

I am a compulsive reader, and, these days, it’s taking a hold on me, because, if I am not reading a novel on my phone, I am reading an article on politics or literature or other books, or New Yorkers or The Guardian. That’s how I pass my time if I am not writing or driving. I have grown up like that. 

Out of the more than 20 books you have written, which is your favourite? 

I think the book that has brought me the best fame would be the short story collection, Night of a Creaking Bed. It was first published in 2009, that’s thirteen years ago, and it has never been out of print. It has now been reissued in the UK, the UK and Nigeria. It has been mega successful, so to speak. That’s the book I would say, if you want to know about Toni Kan’s writings, that’s it. But I like Carnivorous City a lot. It was a novel I knew I was going to write, and I am glad I wrote it. It was on my mind for a long time. It is that Lagos story that shows that this author knows Lagos well. 

Who’s your favourite character in your works? 

It would be Sunny Dike in Carnivorous City. He was somebody I thought of for a long time. The process of creating him took a long time, and I am happy he came out well. Somebody wants to do a movie of it, and is asking me how to depict this larger-than-life character. Once we sign the papers, I will tell him what the ideas are. He is one of the best characters I have created. He is imposing in the book, though you don’t see him in the book except for flashbacks. 

What book are you reading at the moment? 

I am always reading Ted Hughes’ Birthday Letters. I just finished reading Okey Ndibe’s Arrows of Rain and Cheluchi Onyemelukw’s Son of the House.  I am about to start Tim Cocks Lagos Supernatural City. But I am always reading different books at the same time: one in the car, one in the house, another in the office. That’s why I said I am a compulsive reader. 

What are you writing now

I have just finished writing two biographies with my partner, Peju. One is on one oil and gas boss and another on Lemy Garioku. I have just published my poetry collection, Songs for Barbeach. I am also writing a novel, Time Never Passes. I have been writing it for over five years now. 

The post Tony Kan: I can’t stay a day without reading  appeared first on The Sun Nigeria.

Source: news