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Yewande Omotoso Talks About Identity, Belonging and Bom Boy

Bom BoyYewande Omotoso was interviewed by Valentina A. Mmaka for Authors in Africa. In the interview she talked about how her identity has marked her writing, and how having a sense of place, as an immigrant, has shaped her own life and the lives of those she writes about.

Omotoso also discusses how the publication of her SALA award-winning book Bom Boy has helped her as a writer, and the workshops she has attended, including the Farafina Writing Workshop which featured such noted African writers such as Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Binyavanga Wainaina.

VALENTINA A. MMAKA – Yewande, you carry an extraordinary experience of being a writer across cultures. You’re from Barbados, grew up in Nigeria and are now living in South Africa. How are all these cultures reflected in your writing and what heritage did they leave you?

YEWANDE OMOTOSO – Coming from across cultures, I believe I mostly value difference as opposed to be threatened by it. I do tend to write about people living in a foreign land, people who don’t belong or don’t fit in, visitors to a place, people whose relationship to the setting of the story might be tenuous or contested. For the obvious reason, this is what I know. However because I have lived the longest in South Africa, Cape Town specifically, that is the easiest place for the stories to take place in. Over time as I gain in knowledge and become braver, I hope to set more stories solidly in Nigeria or Barbados, but you cannot, as a writer, fake familiarity with a place – I don’t think so anyway.

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