‘How do I relax? I read a thriller’
Ayobami Adebayo was born in Lagos, Nigeria, in 1988. After studying literature at Obafemi Awolowo University she moved to the UK and completed a second MA at the University of East Anglia, where she studied under Margaret Atwood. Her debut novel Stay With Me is shortlisted for the Baileys Prize for Fiction. She lives in Ile-Ife, Nigeria, and works as a fiction editor for Saraba Magazine.
Who is your perfect reader?
What is the last thing you read that made you laugh out loud?
Naomi Alderman’s The Power. The last sentence is pure gold. What books are currently on your bedside table? Irenosen Okojie’s Speak Gigantular, Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers, David Olusoga’s Black and British, a Book of Psalms and Fiona Melrose’s Midwinter.
Who would you like to sit next to at a dinner party?
Michelle Obama. What book changed your life? Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things. The language made me rethink all I’d believed about the English language.
What music helps you write?
I must have listened to at least 10 covers of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” — Jeff Buckley’s cover is usually my go-to song. “Bamidele” by Asa is the other song I often have on repeat.
Where do you write best?
Anywhere, as long as the curtains are drawn. What are you scared of? Waking up someday and somehow being unable to write.
How do you relax?
I read a thriller. What is the best piece of advice a parent gave you? Never lend people money you can’t afford to give them as a gift.
What is your favourite word?
How would you earn your living if you had to give up writing?
I’d teach literature.
Who are your literary influences?
I admire Toni Morrison, Wole Soyinka, Margaret Atwood, James Baldwin, Elizabeth Strout, DO Fagunwa, Sefi Atta, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Colm Tóibín and Junot Díaz.
It’s a long list that keeps growing. Ayobami Adebayo’s ‘Stay With Me’ is published by Canongate.
Catch her on the FT Weekend’s Everything Else podcast ft.com/everything-else