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BY THE BOOK: The engineer who is passionate about stories

Wednesday August 21 2019

Eunniah Mbabazi.

Eunniah Mbabazi. PHOTO| COURTESY 

By KARIUKI WA NYAMU

Although she describes herself as a telecom enthusiast and has a degree in electronic engineering, Eunniah Mbabazi admits that writing is her true muse.

She blogs at mbabaziafrica.com and rapando.co.ke, and is the author of Breaking Down--an anthology of short stories. She speaks to nation.co.ke:

How many books on average do you read in a year and do you have a favourite spot where you read your books from?

We could say about 40 books. Last year, I read about 63, the highest number I have ever read in a year. I am currently on my 31st read as we speak.

I read from anywhere that is silent, in the office, in my house and even in a silent matatu.

What are the three most memorable books you have read so far?

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Questions for Ada by Ijeoma Umebinyuo, a story full of pain and crushed dreams. The author takes us through a roller coaster of emotions emerging from societal pressures and the need to conform. It also addresses the sacredness of womanhood, and the pride of wearing the crown with so much joy.

Hello Mother by Charles Chanchori. The book features vulnerability of children from one-parent households. It explores the trauma that children undergo as they try to question why the other parent is absent, and when it finally dawns on them that they would never find the answers, another beautiful story begins.

Yesterday, I Cried by Iyanla Vanzant. The book taught me the vast possibilities of living positively with your wounds and not letting your past to define you. It also taught me that it is okay to try and fail, and cry while at it and that it is possible to start all over, and thrive.

Which is your least favourite genre of books?

Motivational books are a no-go zone for me. This is probably because I believe there are various ways of handling something, and what works for you, might not work for me. I always do it my own way.

If it fails, it is a lesson. If it wins, it is a celebration.

Which are your two most treasured books?

Zoo by Charles Chanchori. It reminds me of the memories I made in primary school. The friends I made, who still hold me down to date, and the milestones I have made.

After the Storm by Brian Mbanacho. It reminds me that as a writer, the huge task of keeping readers interested in my writing lies squarely on my shoulders.

If you were to become a character from a book, who would you be and why?

Darling from We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo. I would love to know how it is growing up in abject poverty. I would want to experience the pain of leaving one’s motherland, only to get to another country and find things are not rosy as one would have thought.

Eunniah Mbabazi's book, Breaking Down.

Eunniah Mbabazi's book, Breaking Down. PHOTO| COURTESY

If you had the opportunity to meet three authors, dead or alive, who would they be?

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Her works always speak to the woman in me. Dan Brown, because the courage with which he writes about the conflict between science and religion is something to be greatly admired.

Ayobami Adebayo, her novel, Stay With Me, has refused to leave my mind! Saying that it is beautiful would be an understatement.

What is that one book you read that was out of your comfort zone?

The Alchemist. I struggled to get to the end. I skipped huge chunks of text, looking for interesting bits. Honestly, it took me long to finish!

Have you ever had a bad commentary about your writing?

Early this year, in February to be precise, as I was doing the 30-day blogging challenge, someone commented that they felt that my writing was more inclined towards me than the target audience.

They said they felt left out, and the sadness in the writings wasn’t something that would do good to me.

What are your thoughts on society’s reading culture today in the face of popular culture?

I think we are trying. I have been in matatus where people sit and read books. I have been to social gatherings whose main agenda was reading.

I have been overwhelmed with people ordering my book, which means reading is here to stay.

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