My Life will be unexciting without Books. Sometimes, I have book for dinner

— Salamatu Sule

KSR: You have been in the book exchange business for a while now. How exciting has it been? And what are some of the challenges you faced with booksellers in the course of book exchange?

S. Sule: I am a Literary Agent so, I not only interact with Booksellers but Publishers and Writers/ Authors too. I connect the book value chain.

Challenges? There’s so many challenges facing the entire book industry and the most pronounced is book distribution. How to properly get books to the reading public is an issue. Another issue is having to patiently follow up with publishers.

KSR: There are books we read that refuse to leave us. Which three books would you cross the desert to get in the case of book thieves? Why?

S. Sule: I have read so many books with their peculiar impact. But this three, I won’t tire of:

1. The Canterbury’s Tales by Jeffery Chaucer

2. Lord of the Flies by William Golden

3. Witness to Tears by Abubakar Gimba

This books are quite enlightening and didactic. It shows you the human politicking when you find yourself lost with other humans. It shows you how to navigate your way through as every man is always for himself.

KSR: From 2010 to date, so many books have gone to the shelf. List five African books you believe should be rated as classics of this period.
Explain why you think three among the five listed are so important.

S. Sule:

1. The Whispering Trees– Abubakar Adam Ibrahim

2. My Sister the Serial Killer– Oyinkan Braithwaite

3. Born on Tuesday Elnathan John

4. Americana Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

5. Season of Crimson Blossom Abubakar Adam Ibrahim

We have books that are bestsellers even though, we do not track them and I think, Abubakar Adam Ibrahim is a fantastic storyteller and his books have been speaking high of him in that regard. His book Seasons of Crimson Blossom did not only win the Nigerian Prize for Literature but have been translated into several languages. The novel brought to limelight, the true writings of Northern Nigerian literature as told by a northerner living in Nigeria. The author dared where many other writers fear to write such a daring plot.

Americana by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie was quite received by members of the reading public and Adichie did not disappoint her fans in weaving storytelling with stereotypical realities. The theme explored is worth making the book a classic as it won the US National Book Critic Award in 2013.

Born on a Tuesday by Elnathan John was shortlisted for the Nigerian Prize for Literature. The book shows the stark reality of Northern Nigeria in the face of religion and corruption. Readers will not forget this novel published in 2015 in a hurry as religious extremism defines the height of the novel as Dantala who represents the youths in the society tries to find a place and identity for himself.

KSR: If you were the leader of a revolutionary movement, which two books of fiction or nonfiction would you recommend for your followers and why?

S. Sule: Black Boy by Richard Wright. The book is an autobiography of Richard Wright about his environment and his resistance towards it. In this book, every reader is bound to learn one or two lessons about what it means to be aggressive in a racial environment. Wright himself is grounded with words as his sword in the battlefield where his identity is put to question and he says:

I would hurl words into this darkness and wait for an echo, and if an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight, to create a sense of the hunger for life that gnaws in us all.”

― Richard Wright, Black Boy

No Violet Bulawayo’s We Need New Names is another fantastic revolutionary book I will recommend for my followers. I have chosen fiction because, I want my readers to see for themselves how the characters in the novel are not farfetched from real life characters. Maybe, after that we can look at the Freedom books of Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King Junior.

KSR: If you were to prescribe a poetry book for therapy, which book would it be and why?

S. Sule: Maya Angelou’s Letter to my Daughter. The book is a sketch of everything about life and lessons learnt and what is more beautiful about it is the fact that the poet passes down this lessons to daughters all over. Ironically, Maya herself never had a daughter except for one son. She never fails to tell women about how phenomenal they are and will always be.

KSR: Thank you for having us.

Salamatu Sule is a Literary Agent, Book Reviewer and Author. She connects writers, Publishers and Booksellers to the book value chain. Sule lives in Abuja, Nigeria. Her life is unexciting without books.