London_18 December 2010 018_smaller size

“But now the shivering has stopped. Gathered itself and lifted. For a moment it hung over me like a hat; now it sits on top of the wardrobe at the end of the room, grinning. Like a naughty girl in a short skirt. I feel it moving to the window but what is there to see?”

Writing takes you on many adventures. Those that stay only in your head, those that you create and those that lead you to other people, places and worlds. Many of these adventures you will remember fondly with a smile but if you are really lucky you will meet on these adventures, writers that will reside in your heart, as if they have always been there, staying there, year after year with you wondering, “I wonder what adventures he/she is up to?”

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I met Jowhor Ile on one of my many writing adventures. Writing online many years ago, the Nigerian blogosphere had just exploded and it was in the small world of “blogville” that I stumbled upon a blogger “Jaja”, whose words were so beautiful and oh! so carefully chosen that I wondered how he managed to still keep the intensity in his sentences. Surely, finding such words to express your soul must need hours of thinking, writing, editing, hours of….”something” whatever it is, must be needed. Or did he just have to be Jowhor to make it all happen? Over the years, I have realised that it is perhaps a little bit of everything…

“Today she is stranded in old habits, walking the same old paths alone, scratching and cooing to her lost children. Only occasionally does a trembling take over, and even then she doesn’t give in. She is private, solemn, restrained. There is dignity in her grief “

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Jowhor’s writing has an intensity that has always appealed to me, his writing had a flow and style that was different from everything else on blogville. The things he wrote about too, were different. Who was this person?

“A man walks in, tall as the door. There is sweat on his forehead, softness in his bloodshot eyes, a black pen clipped to his breast pocket”.

This person, turned out to be a calm soft spoken man, who took his writing seriously. He quit his job to focus on his writing for nearly two years. It was a bold move. One, that I had not dared to make and so I began to look forward to his adventures.

“Jowhor, where are you now?” and he would complain about how slowly the work was going or his struggle with a paragraph or character. This attention to detail could be quite often very irritating, especially for somebody like me, who only wanted to hear “it is finished”.

Jowhor Ile was raised in Port Harcourt and would describe himself as a Port Harcourt boy, yet, in his urban and contemporary world, he is full of village yarns and anecdotes about the most improbable stories and characters. He has a scope and feel for life that can be seen clearly in his writing. It feels familiar, we know these places, these characters but we have just never looked at them this way before, through his eyes.

I was not the only one eager for Jowhor’s debut. “There’s a young man called Jowhor Ile who is just finishing a novel, who I think is really spectacular. His novel, when it comes out, will be very good”. That was Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie talking about Jowhor. Unfortunately, his name got  lost in the unfortunate story of the cocoyam.

Well, he is spectacular. And while we wait impatiently for his novel to be published, I leave you with my favourite of his short stories—Afternoon street” published by McSweeney’s.

Read Afternoon Street {HERE}