September 2013, Manfred Sause
2 November 1979
London, United Kingdom
|Alma mater||Yale University; Nuffield College, Oxford|
|Literary movement||Realism, Drama|
I'm not sure where I'm from! I was born in London. My father's from Ghana but lives in Saudi Arabia. My mother's Nigerian but lives in Ghana. I grew up in Boston.
The big ideas always come in flashes. I don't really craft stories that much. I genuinely don't know where these people come from, and I've often wondered if writing is just a socially acceptable form of madness.
I consider myself West African, among other cultural identities, and a writer, among other creative ones.
I've written fiction for as long as I can remember; it's always been my preferred form of play.
The thing that comes most frequently to me on yoga retreats is excruciating pain in my hips.
The summer I finished my first novel 'Ghana Must Go,' I drove across west Africa: from Accra to Lome to Cotonou to the deliciously named Ouagadougou.
Being a twin, and being my sister's twin, is such a defining part of my life that I wouldn't know how to be who I am, including a writer, without that being somehow at the centre.
So often, literature about African people is conflated with literature about African politics, as if the state were somehow of greater import or interest than the individual.
As a novelist, I ask of myself only that I tell the truth and that I tell it beautifully.
When writing screenplays, it's a matter of remembering to leave off the page anything and everything that doesn't appear on the screen.
I wrote fiction during my entire childhood, from age 4 to 18, and started writing plays when I went to Yale and Oxford.
The writer presents himself to the blank page not with an open passport but an open heart.
I read recently that the problem with stereotypes isn't that they are inaccurate, but that they're incomplete. And this captures perfectly what I think about contemporary African literature. The problem isn't that it's inaccurate, it's that it's incomplete.
As a young woman, I had been seeking experience, knowledge, truth, the stuff writers need in their work, but when the artist actually kicked in, I came to understand that in this romantic relationship I was not free to be myself, or to find myself, in order to begin the true work I needed to do.
When I'm working, I'm so narrowly focused on sound, language, rhythm, flow, that I rarely feel the emotion of the text. It's only after – long after – I've finished a piece that I can experience in any way its emotional charge.
I live in Rome and five minutes from my flat is a church where you can walk in and see this beautiful Caravaggio. Just the way this man uses dark paint: dark to create dark to create dark, the layering of the darkness in his work. I just race home: I want to create!
That's what makes writer's block so painful. You think the well has run dry, maybe somewhere in the heavens the tap has been turned off. That's beyond frightening.
Every Christmas, all around Ghana, there are tons of these parties and they are full of everything that exists in human life in Ghana and worldwide.
As a writer, one is obliged to release her words, to let them live in the world on their own.
I was four when I announced my ambition to write, eight when I began publishing such claims.