BOOKS THEY READ: Hilda Twongyeirwe

Saturday September 4 2010

Hilda Twongyeirwe is the coordinator of Uganda Women Writers Association (FEMRITE) and a board member of the National Book Trust of Uganda (Nabotu). Her poems and short stories have appeared in various anthologies. Her children’s book, Fina the Dancer was awarded a certificate of recognition as an outstanding piece of literature for children.

What do you look for in a book?
I look for an interesting story. Sometimes, as I read, I discover that the writer has good language and an intriguing sense of humour but the story is what must hold my attention first. I am reading Black Water by Erstin Ekman. There are so many good books I feel guilty not to have read.
What are your favourite quotes from the books you have read?
“I have travelled farther into myself… nothing can ever be quite the same.” An Instant in the Wind by Andre Brink
Which books didn’t you finish but want to give them a second try?
In the Eye of the Sun by Ahaf Soueif - a good story but at the time I started reading it, I was busy and was put off by the detail that didn’t allow me to plunge into the story. I normally try to complete every book. If a book does not hold my attention, I skip some pages and read to the end. I find it very difficult to start a book and put it down without knowing how it ended.
Which books are by your bedside?
I currently have three books at my bedside - the Bible, and Is It Time to Make a Change? by Deanna Beisser. The third one is too personal! I wish I could mention it.
Which writer would you like to meet?
There are so many writers that I would like to meet. Number one is Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie; her stories engage the reader so passionately that they leave one wondering what it would be like speaking to her. She is such an astounding story teller. In Half of a Yellow Sun, Chimamanda lets you into her world, the world of the Biafra war, the politics of Nigeria, the politics of religion, the people’s way of life, the landscape; she transports you to the land of Half of a Yellow Sun. I would like ask why she did not let Kainene return from her last journey!
There are those thrilling writers like Barbara Taylor, the author of A Woman of a Substance. There is a lot to learn from these writers whose works rock through generations. You read A Woman of a Substance and feel like you are Emma Harte. You feel that you too can make it whatever the challenges!
What is the last thing that you read and made you laugh out loud?
Mildred’s Kiconco’s poem; I Will Ask Grandma in her collection of poetry, Give me Room to Move my Feet. It is a very humorous poem that locates the persona (us) back in memories and values of the life’s journey from the beginning.
Which literary character do you have a crush on?
Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte. Crushes heal, don’t they?
Who is your favourite character?
Almost each book I read, I get a favourite character. My favourite characters are mostly the brave and daring like Emma Harte, those that come up to defend others like the nurse in The Cry of the Innocent by Unity Dhow, those suffering unfairly like Heathcliff, and those that do not give up. Unfortunately, most of the time the authors destroy such characters, may be to deal with their own fears or to show how cruel life can be.
Beatrice Lamwaka