Saturday, June 8, 2013

Letter to Chinelo Okparanta


07/06/13. Dear Chinelo, its with a lot of joy that I’m writing to tell you that I received HLW yesterday. Four days ago, I had been so worried it had gone missing because it took too long when I called the head office and they told me “nothing yet.” Today, while working on a Kenya airways flight, I got a call from the company accountant, Alin. Well, you can guess what she said right (I know you understand French) “bonjour Nkiacha,” “oui Alin bonjour,” “votre courier la est arrivé eh!” “Ah bon eh, grand merci, je veux passer la bas apres le vol.” “okay, je t’attends alors” I was distracted till the flight ended! I first passed by the bank to collect our delayed salary and jet planed to the office. The envelope was presented to me. I tore it open and stared at the front cover admiring and later reading those 2 short reviews. (coincidentally, I heard about Mohsin Hamid for my first time just last Sunday when I was listening to the BBC’s world book club and he was the guest talking about The Reluctant Fundamentalist!) I opened the first page and saw, wow “For Nkiacha: many thanks for reading! Signature, date” my heart jumped for joy like John the Baptist in Elisabeth’s womb-My first book sent to me by the author herself!!! I brought it to my nose, oui, and loved the fresh smell of the new pages. I counted the stories -10 of them (196 pages-it’s a very brief one for me) and kept admiring it for 5 minutes. I left with my new book and my little salary. Like the rapper Ice Cube sang in 1994, “It was a good day.” Let me now say bc of our friendship, I now want you to win that Caine, lol! I devoured all of “On Ohaeto street” last night and made notes despite being tired. I will read the others carefully, write my review of each story and send to you. Once again, thank you very much.
NB: Please don’t bother about people misinterpreting and negatively criticizing “America.” It means you are going to be very famous. Want to know why I said so? please have a look at this…. In 1990, the Peruvian novelist Mario Vargas Llosa addresses a different aspect of the writing life: fame. He recounts something Pablo Neruda once told him: “An article at the time—I can’t remember what it was about—had upset and irritated me because it insulted me and told lies about me. I showed it to Neruda. In the middle of his birthday party, he prophesied: ‘You are becoming famous. I want you to know what awaits you: the more famous you are, the more you will be attacked like this. For every praise, there will be two or three insults. I myself have a chest full of all the insults, villainies, and infamies a man is capable of withstanding. I wasn’t spared a single one: thief, pervert, traitor, thug, cuckold, everything! If you become famous, you will have to go through that.’ Neruda told the truth; his prognosis came absolutely true. I not only have a chest, but several suitcases full of articles that contain every insult known to man.” Mario Vargas Lhosa….when Nkiacha Atemnkeng switched on CNN in 2011, he heard a newscast that Lhosa had won the Nobel prize for Literature
Hmmm. Good to know what you have awaiting you, lol. Bye bye dear.