Monday, November 10, 2014

Terra Cotta Beauty by Jola Naibi Review & Interview

Book Title: Terra Cotta Beauty #TerraCottaBeauty
Paperback: 142 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (June 12, 2014)
ISBN-10: 1491271671
ISBN-13: 978-1491271674
Genre: Fiction
About The Author
Jola Naibi was raised in Lagos, Nigeria and studied in in the United Kingdom. She enjoys writing and blogging as a way to satisfy and extremely eager imagination.
About The Book
PP Native Cover.4388980.indd
Follow the daily lives, loves, and hopes of an entire community in Jola Naibi’s moving debut, Terra Cotta Beauty. A carefully crafted selection of short stories, this collection examines life in Lagos, Nigeria, during the era of military rule. It reveals the struggles, loves, and hopes of a disparate group of people whose lives always manage to intersect—sometimes in the most devastating of ways. With each brief conversation and split-second decision containing consequences that reach further than anyone could ever imagine, each of the book’s seven tales is a delicate thread that helps form the social fabric of a nation divided. From a woman whose journalist husband is jailed for criticizing the government to a young man’s reluctant descent into crime, Terra Cotta Beauty acts as a carefully crafted ode to the essence of Lagos itself: its people.
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Where are you from?
Lagos, Nigeria

Tell us your latest news?
I am busy promoting Terra Cotta Beauty and also started working on the outline for my next book which will be released in 2016.

When and why did you begin writing?
I started writing as a child – making up stories.  I just continued and for as long as I can remember, I have always been writing.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Sometime in 1997, I started collecting quotations – wise and witty sayings by people who inspired me and then I would write stories or articles, mostly human interest stories. I was doing this more as a hobby and then it dawned on me that I had actually become a writer and the rest as they say is history.

What inspired you to write your first book?
It might come across as a bit trite or even clichéd but the stories in Terra Cotta Beauty were born out of a deep nostalgia I had for the life that I lived in Lagos. I have not lived there for a very long time and since I left, I have lived in Europe and now in the US, but I carry the stories of the Lagos with me everywhere I go. The resilient spirit of the people of Lagos continues to inspire and encourage me

Do you have a specific writing style?
I like the narrative style. Telling a personal story especially in the first person can be profound and readers can easily relate to the characters when the story is told in that style.

How did you come up with the title?
I wanted something that was catchy and unforgettable. Someone had told me about how their grandmother would use the damp earth as a face mask – it was a beauty regimen that I found fascinating and the more I thought about it, the more the word ‘Terra Cotta’ came to my mind and from there the title was created.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I would like readers to learn more about the resilient spirit of the people of Lagos. When I lived in Lagos, I would hear people say:  “If you’ve lived here, you can live anywhere.” It was not until I left to live elsewhere that I realized how true that is.

How much of the book is realistic?
A lot of the book is based on reality

Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
A combination of both

What books have most influenced your life most?
Silas Marner by George Eliot, Les Bout de Bois de Dieu (God’s Bits of Wood) by Sembene Ousmane and Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
Wole Soyinka

What book are you reading now?
Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
Taiye Selassie, Chibundo Onuzo, Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani and Teju Cole

What are your current projects?
I have started working on my next book – a full-length novel and, of course, promoting Terra Cotta Beauty, which I have discovered takes as much creative energy as writing it

What would you like my readers to know?
I think a lot of people will be able to relate to the characters in the book, even those who have never visited Lagos. I really enjoyed writing the stories as it was a way to transport myself back home and also shed some light on human compassion in the face of the most vicious form of oppression.

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My Review:
This was a nice collection of short stories that were all interconnected. A main character in one story was a minor character in another. The author used her knowledge of Nigerian culture. I felt like I could travel there in my mind and learn from the author. There were common threads between their culture and mine, like a clothesline, and that help me relate to the characters. This was an fun read and I am giving this book a 4/5. I was given a copy to review, however all opinions are my own.

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