Brian Mbanacho is a writer who takes great pleasure in telling romance and drama stories on his blog and social media pages. He also works as a copywriter at an advertising agency. In June 2018, he published his first book, After the Storm. He spoke to Nation.co.ke
What are the three most memorable books you have read so far?
Americannahby Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.It’s amazing how Chimamanda uses flashback to tell this story, switching between Nigeria and America with so much ease. The love story between Ifemelu and Obinze is so realistic, making the whole story intriguing.
Half of A Yellow Sunby Chimamanda Adichie. It’s now obvious that I am in love with Chimamanda (laughs). What stands out for me in this book is how Chimamanda affords to be funny while talking about the grim Biafra War.
The River Betweenby Ngugi wa Thiong’o. The two ridges lay side by side. One was Kameno, the other was Makuyu. Between them was a valley. It was called the valley of life. Behind… I mean, need I say more?
How many books on average do you read in a year?
I had taken a long hiatus from reading books until mid this year. I found favour in blogs, newspaper features, magazines etc. I have only managed to read about six books this year.
What’s your ideal reading experience?
I love reading in silence, mostly at home or at a cosy food joint that is not crowded.
Which is your favourite genre of books?
I love romance and drama…well with love comes drama, no? I believe that love is at the centre of everything and I love reading about people falling in love and finding themselves and some losing themselves.
What's the size of your book collection as of the present?
Considering my books hiatus, my book collection isn’t huge. If my book collection were a family, it would be a small nuclear family.
Which are your two most treasured books and why? Would you lend them out?
Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart, a small book but with very rich content in terms of the characters, lessons and of course, culture. In the book, Chinua reminds us that simplicity doesn’t mean shallowness in writing. The other book is After the Storm, which I authored. It represents my dreams; I hold it dear to my heart. I would only lend out these two books if the borrower was too broke to afford buying their own copy.
If you were to become a character from a book, who would you be and why?
I would be Ugwu from Half of a Yellow Sun. His experiences are intriguing, from a common village boy to serving as a houseboy in Master’s house, helping Olanna to teach during the war and later fight in the war as a soldier. And he was funny too; remember how he invented his own fried rice, hoping it would send Odenigbo and Olanna straight to the toilet in a hurry? (Laughs) He is an outstanding character!
If you had the opportunity to meet three authors, dead or alive, who would they be and why?
Ngugi wa Thiong’o because I have to ask him why Muthoni had to die in The River Between. I am honestly yet to get over her death.
Jackson Biko; I feel that he represents consistency and tenacity and that I would borrow a lot from him.
And of course, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, who I believe would change my perception of masculinity forever.
What is that one book you read that was out of your comfort zone?
The one that I am currently reading, The Mummy or Ramses The Damned by Anne Rice. I have been forced to reread some passages in order to follow with the story but it is worth the effort. It is an interesting read.
If you were to recommend three books to a 10-year-old, which ones would they be and why?
This is a tough one. I will go with How to be A Kenyan by Wahome Mutahi, because it is hilarious. Things Fall Apart because it feels like watching a traditional Nigerian movie and probably Hekaya Za Abunuwasi, I loved it as a kid.
What are your thoughts on society’s reading culture today in the face of popular culture?
Sadly, I find our reading culture to be uninspiring. There was a time I used to live in the Kenya National Library when I was doing research for some writing project, and for over a year I observed that most people in the library were pupils and students, basically people who had no option but to be in the library, despite the fact that the Kenya national Library is equipped with all manner of reading materials.
Also, the fact that people shamelessly share e-books on WhatsApp shows how little they think of books, or the people who write them.
E-books versus hard copies, what is your preference and why?
Hard copies--nothing beats that feeling of holding a book and feeling its pages with your fingers.
What was your last read and how did you find it?
Drunkby Jackson Biko. I read it in one sitting and found it to be very interesting. The suspense was intense, I am still wondering what happened to Larry.
Christmas is around the corner, if you were to choose three books as a Christmas gift, which ones would they be?
Becomingby Michelle Obama, Born A Crime by Trevor Noah and Best of Whispers- a collection of the late Wahome Mutahi’s Sunday Nation articles.