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Yewande Omotoso Discusses Bom Boy’s Leke: “He’s Somewhere in between Being a Wonderful Guy and a Monster”

Bom Boy“I do want to disturb people. This is also true of the book I’m busy writing at the moment: I don’t want the reading of it to be comfortable,” Yewande Omotoso told Thomas Okes from O, The Oprah Magazine.

Omotoso spoke about Leke, the protagonist in Bom Boy, saying that she had initially wanted to write his character as a psychopath but had realised that that wasn’t his story: “He’s somewhere in between being a wonderful guy and a monster. If you give him a little nudge one way or the other, he could become either, but for now, he’s on that cusp, or edge, that I think a lot of people face every day”.

I’d like to talk to you about a few things – what you’re doing now, the Open Book Cape Town festival, which just finished – but mostly, I’d like to discuss Bom Boy. I’m interested (if this makes any sense) in the way I’m interested in this book – reading it, I’ve been made aware of the way I think, and I’d like to talk about how that happens. So, first question: How much do you care about how I read your writing?

Yewande Omotoso: “I think, with writing fiction, and using the novel as a form to do that, I’m sending little signals out into the world. But the first thing I’d like to mention here is that, in the same way that there are many readings of the same book, there are many writings of it, too. On the first draft, I don’t think much about the writer at all – I’m over here, in a sense, with the character. I’m asking, who is this guy, am I telling the truth of the story, am I maybe putting too much of myself into him, and so on. So there’s a lot at play, and I’m not thinking, when someone picks this up, will they get it? That I can leave for the second or third drafts, or even when I’m editing the manuscript. I write the story down, and hope someone will get it. The story is the thing. That’s an inner answer; it’s my answer, and because I have that answer, the question of who my reader is, or how my book will be read, doesn’t bother me too much.”

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