It is dangerous to introduce myself and life, both, a series of wonderful obstacles, and excellent pretenses that I prefer to keep unprintable. In any case, the following is what I would tell you if we were trapped in a 100-degree elevator, with three fugitive burglars in ski masks, a portly man with bad breath and an expecting woman in surprise-surprise labour, and I am forced with a sharp ink pen held to my jugular to spill.
Chuka Nestor Emezue, birth by Catholic nurses, in Nigeria, August 9th, 1988, currently living in easy circumstances in Columbia, Missouri with a Bonsai tree to his name and the restful view of a gurgling pond where thirsty deer compose a play, and I watch under the guise of a brat-pack novelist by night.
Prompted further, by inspiration of a sharp ink pen to my jugular, I would add…
In the mornings, I wake forgetting, for a time, that I am now removed to this fine American life.
The son of a stoical preacher and two government-worker mothers – one, eternally making way for the other – Emezue was sent to a several deadly boarding school precincts where he would learn he could not bleed to death, posed a tolerance for deadly pain, would not felate another man to save his skin, and developed a fascination with transgressive writing. These experiences will eventually form the recipe for his writings. He is a graduate of the University of Missouri, where he earned two graduate degrees in public health and public policy, and now struggles with part-time writing.
His debut novel: ‘The Things That Tickle God’ captures the satirical eye-witnessing of a schizophrenic war correspondent covering an impressive Nigerian sectarian war. It is still uncompleted.
When finished, the book should follow the teller’s comical sampling of religions, enchantment with dead infantrymen, a fractured masculinity told with malice, audio-visual hallucinations and – of course – a botched rapport with a god-peddling father. Why not? The novel, a snapshot of contemporary Nigeria, attempts to correctly capture the colours, etiquette and quirks of divergent Nigerian peoples and cultures in the wake of the Boko Haram Radical Islamic sectarian war, circa 2009 – present.
It should open and end terribly with fireworks and magic.
Having never taken a writing class, Emezue composes counterculture and transgressive poems outside the tenets of prescribed traditional writing methods and styles – he does not identify as a poet.
His literary curiosity cracks open a Pandora box of themes including: forced immigration, Black consciousness, suicide & mental health, Ubuntu-ism (yes, really!), a good ole’ gumbo of -isms, including something called dirty realism. Terrible fatherhood is not spared and the constantly serpentine concept of Black masculinity makes a cameo every other Tuesday at 11:11am.
His supposed mentors – gods and dogs alike – span the fabric of sensible and senseless society, literary temperaments and skin tones; from the likes of Bukowski, Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Fante, Nabokov, Achebe, Allende, Jhumpa Lahiri, Teju Cole and Chimamanda Ngozi-Adichie – among other such powerful recorders.
When Emezue is not channeling his inner Bukowski, you can find him failing badly at whipping up a decent pancake, dancing barefoot and wonderfully to African music or convincing a cousin across the Atlantic that Obama is – oddly enough – not a closet-Nigerian and does not, for the love of God, understand a lick of the Igbo language.
Author images for media use can be downloaded here (photo credit: Tim Nwachukwu/Chuka Nestor Emezue).
“A weekend novelist, among other such mighty sins. These lines are my own undoing. Faults in my humanity. The rather unsophisticated ramblings of a lover of silence. In this place I can take off clothes, Expose my mind and forget debts – or so I fancy. And from this simple fugue, It remains my singular heart desire to evade among other sins, Those saccharinic writers you occupy with, For besides their painful fraudulence, I dread even more, The malady that comes from being a student of many masters; So that now, I am driven to fondling instead With the minds of only the most misplaced of souls, The brat-pack types, the down and dirty fools, Sons of forgotten mothers, Whose composed works are not page turners At least not to most. I am one of such. A remarkably errant thing. I am many things bad – never a Poet.”