BY THE BOOK: Aito Osemegbe Joseph

Aito Osemegbe Joseph works as a sales manager

Aito Osemegbe Joseph works as a sales manager with a company in Nigeria.

After work, he writes short stories some of which have appeared on online literary blogs; CampMarson Brittle paper, TheList on Munyori Literary Journal, University College Hospital on Afridiaspora and PartingGift on Kahalari review.

He was on the 2016 Writivism shortlist and was a speaker at Writivism’s festival in Kampala, same year.

He was also a participant at the 2017 Miles Morland Creative Writing Workshop.


He spoke his literary favourites and fantasies.

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Do you consider yourself an African writer?

Ha, the scores of definitions for the term ‘African writer’. I hardly consider these boxes we use to separate writers but yes, by almost all definitions, I am an African writer. I go with the majority here.


Which two books do you hold so dear that they can’t possibly be lent out?

Things FallApart by Chinua Achebe and The Santangelos by Jackie Collins.

ThingsFall Apart because it was one of the first novels I fell in love with and TheSantangelos because whoever first read the copy I have made strange scribblings on several pages of the book and now I have to find the person… It’s been three years.

There are a couple of other books I can’t give out mostly because it may not be easy replacing them if something fatal happens- Philosopher’sStone by J K Rawlings (Paperback) and Nnedi Okorafor’s Phoenix among others.

Why do you think Nigerians are winning all the literary prizes?

Perhaps they have better incentives. Perhaps, they have a tougher competition amongst themselves that push them to deliver excellent results. But really, are Nigerians winning all the literary prizes? In recent years, I doubt that has been the case.

What are you currently reading?

Rereading An Abundance of Katherines by John Green. This time, I’m taking notes.

Your childhood favourite books?

I’m not sure when childhood ends, but I graduated from The Sugar Girl by Kola Onadipe, and Cyprian Ekwensi’s The Drummer Boy to MillsandBoon romance novels before I was 11 and then my family stumbled on Ted Dekker’s circle trilogies and we all easily became loyal readers. I think I’m still stuck on such books.

If you were to dine with three writers, dead or alive, who would they be and why?

Jeffrey Archer, to ask him about his time in prison. Jeffrey was a businessman of sorts, a politician, millionaire novelist and he spent four years in jail.

Aside the jail part, his life is one I would like to model mine to be like and I believe he is someone young creatives can easily aspire to be in life.

There is also Francine Rivers whom I’d like to psychoanalyse, an unravelling of sorts and finally Frank Peretti, to thank him for writing PiercingtheDarkness and ThisPresentDarkness.

Why do you write?

Nothing fanciful. Because a teacher in my primary school convinced me I was good at it, and it felt really good. Life hasn’t convinced me otherwise since then.

If you were sent off to Robben Island for a year, which three books would you take with you and why?

StaywithMe by Ayobami Adebayo. I just started reading it and it promises so much. I would also take any novel of the Santangelo series because they help me escape and finally Night of a Red Moon, by Ojay Aito.

The story makes me angry, always reminds me to live in the moment.

Do you think literary prizes are important?

Of course, they are! I think all fields enjoy the driving influence of prizes and the literary world isn’t exempt.

A few weeks ago, I started reading an argument online that spoke strongly against literary prizes, I didn’t finish the read…