Books They Read: Angella Emurwon

Saturday October 1 2011

Angie Emurwon

Angie Emurwon 

Angie Emurwon is a writer/director whose radio play, The Cow Needs a Wife won 3rd place in the 2010 BBC African Performance Playwriting competition. She talked to Beatrice Lamwaka about the books she has read and the collection of short stories she is working on.

Why do you love books?
The Adventure. Discovering the world over and over again through as many eyes as there are authors. Someone said there are only seven stories and the writer’s task is to create the details that make a story worth the journey again and again.

What kind of stories appeal to you?
I enjoy stories about interesting people in interesting places. It doesn’t have to be fact, but it always has to explore truth.

Which books cant you stop re-reading?
I read Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice every year. Elizabeth Bennett remains my favourite character in a book; every year, I hope to forget her enough so that I can delight in discovering her all over again. I find Austen’s keen observation, comic turn of phrase, and engaging characters mentally satisfying.

I also read the Book of Isaiah from The Bible more any other piece of writing. Quite apart from it is over arching redemptive themes, it combines lyricism, powerful imagery, minimalist mysticism, as well as poetry in telling its story. I find myself reading it again and again for inspiration when I’m stuck in a bland rhythmical rut.

Which Ugandan books have you read?
Sadly not that many. I have read Moses Issegawa’s Abyssinian Chronicles which I didn’t enjoy – nothing to do with the literary abilities of that celebrated author, but more that it isn’t my type of book. I loved Doreen Baingana’s Tropical Fish. She made me realise that it is possible to illuminate the Ugandan life without being soppy or cliché.

Which are the most memorable books have you read?
Bill Bryson’s A Short Story of Nearly Everything. It is a treatise on humanity’s remarkable advances as well how staggeringly little we still know. Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things, the language, the journey, its’ terrible beauty. Nadine Gordimer’s Telling Times – she is such a luminous writer, I quit writing for a bit after reading her.

What have you benefited from reading books?
Most of what I’ve learned in life is through narrative. I may also be a more compassionate person after spending so much time in other people’s thoughts. For instance, I now appreciate the incredible complexity of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict from reading The Lemon Tree by Sandy Tolan.

Which books are you reading?
I’m reading a lot of different things at the moment because of the projects I have going on. I read a lot of film scripts (Anthony Minghela, Quentin Tarantino, etc), plays (Miller, Francis Imbuga, Wole Soyinka, etc), and my touchstones at the moment are Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke and Athol Fugard’s Notebooks. I’m also saving Nadine Gordimer’s Life Times for Christmas as a reward (touch wood!) for finishing all my projects for this year.