Ifeoluwapo Adeniyi’s novel ‘On the Bank of the River’ is on the long list for the 2015 Etisalat Prize for Literature. She spoke recently in an interview with WESTERN POST’s Adeola Ogunrinde about her novel and what the prize means to her.
What is the name of your novel long-listed for the Etisalat Prize for literature?
The title of the novel is On The Bank of The River
What is the novel about?
It is a story of three women and their growth from childhood to womanhood. It’s also a story about two generations; two women for the first generation and the last one for the second generations. The novel talks about the paradox in human relationships, that there are excepted social construct for relationships in our society, how a father should relate to a mother , how children should relate with their parents but in reality this things do not exist. There is no clear cut distinction, what you rather have are muffled relationships and I try to show that in my novel.
When did you start writing the novel?
I started when I was in year three in the University when I was eighteen years old
How long did the novel take you to write?
It was a journey of six years, five years when the novel had to practically sit down untouched, one extra year when I had to go through the publishing process but it’s being a beautiful journey for me because it is not only about the growth of the novel also the growth of the writer. I still have the original manuscript of the novel and when I compare the manuscript with what I have now, there is a great transition.
Where did the idea of writing On the Bank Of The River come from?
It was a particular afternoon, I was with my mum who unfortunately is late now, and a cousin of hers called her and narrated the ordeal that was happening in his home that his wife has parked out of the home and was lodging in a hotel with another man. As a young child I was very inquisitive and I asked my mum if things like that happen in reality and she said of course this is an example. That day we talked about how human relationships end up in a paradox and I felt I am going to write a novel too to show how paradoxical human relationships are. When people pick up On The Bank Of The River to read, there is always that gasp why must a novel end this way but ideally in life that is how life throws experiences at us.
You have been writing for how long now?
Well I started writing at age six.
Your Mum was a publisher before she died, how did she react to this novel?
It is always good to have a publisher who believes in you, every mum believes in their child or most mum believe in their child. My mum believed in me and she took me everywhere. Good enough she was able to read this novel before she died and she made her own critical argument before she died. She was sick and at a point we thought it could be death or life and there was time to talk about this novel and I kept asking her what was going to happen to this novel on her sick. She said I should not worry that novels have a way of propelling themselves if they are good novels and I think that is what has happened now.
Are you working on another novel?
Nothing for now because I have a full time job that takes my time. I just concluded a master’s degree and I have applied for a PHD degree in Canada. For like three years now I have not had my like, if there is anything I want to do for now is to go back to my closest, read some more novels, evaluate my writing before I jump on another story. I also want On The Bank Of The River to out-leave its existence not just put it in the market prematurely and jump on another novel. It is not just writing another novel really, it is also about the content.
Being Longlisted for the Etisalat prize for literature, what does it mean to you?
It was a great surprise when I got the news. I am so grateful to those who inaugurated this prize. Being on the Longlist has ignited my passion to continue writing. I am so grateful for this opportunity Etisalat has given me.