Wasafiri Wonders: Chiké Frankie Edozien
Photograph by Victor Adewale
‘I always find myself drawn to stories that folks don’t hear too much about, particularly if they have to do with Africans or their descendants around the world.’
Ever wondered what your favourite writer’s first drafts look like? Or which book they love that nobody’s heard of? Wasafiri Wonders is a series that asks these questions for you.
Chiké Frankie Edozien is a Nigerian-American journalist and memoirist. His memoir Lives of Great Men: Living and Loving as an African Gay Man was published in 2017 the UK and US by Team Angelica Press and was the winner of the 2018 Lambda Literary Award Gay Memoir/Biography category. In 2018, the book was distributed in South Africa through Jacana Books and in West Africa by Ouida Books.
1. Describe your first drafts in one sentence.
My first drafts are often the main points in my head; the meat and potatoes so to speak of what my intentions are.
2. Tell us about your writing rituals.
They are simple. Computer, dictionary and flat surface. I love working in libraries, particularly public libraries.
3. What themes do you gravitate towards and why?
I always find myself drawn to stories that folks don’t hear too much about, particularly if they have to do with Africans or their descendants around the world.
4. Tell us about your newest work.
My most recent book is a 2018 Lambda Literary Award winner called ‘Lives of Great Men’ (Team Angelica UK/Ouida Books West & East Africa/Jacana Books Southern Africa) which chronicles the lives, loves and challenges of being a contemporary member of Africa’s LGBT community at home and abroad.
5. What is the best writing advice you’ve ever received?
Writing is re-writing.
6. What is your favourite book or pamphlet published in the past year and why?
‘Drapetomania’ (Team Angelica) by John Gordon is a stunning work of fiction and ‘A Stranger’s Pose’ (Cassava Republic) is magnificent. Pick them up!
7. What is a classic you recently read for the first time?
‘FairyTales for Lost Children’ (Team Angelica) by the Somali genius Diriye Osman. It’s a well that never dries.
8. What is a book or pamphlet you love that no one else has heard of?
I’ve been in love with Chris Abani’s ‘The Face: Cartography of the Void’ (Restless Books) for a long time but I don’t know if people around the world know how incredibly wonderful this work is. His other work I believe is more popular but this is a tour-de-force. Another book everyone should read it.
9. If your newest work were a music album, what would it be and how would it sound?
It would be unapologetic like all the tracks on Beyoncé’s ‘Lemonade’ but has the joyous refrain from Duval’ ‘Smile’ as we live our best lives.
10. Which books or authors are relevant reads in our political climate —or one you’d recommend to current world leaders?
‘A Return to Love’ by Marianne Williamson.
Lives of Great Men: Living and Loving as an African Gay Man by Chiké Frankie Edozien is published through Team Angelica Press in the UK and US, Jacana Books in South Africa and Ouida Books in West and East Africa.