“There is this virus that we can’t even see that is shaped like a crown, but instead of crowning people, it’s not coming with any kind of glory, it’s coming with death, and it’s killing people all over the world.”

This wry observation, among others, filled our conversation with E.C. Osondu — the fourth chat in our Instagram Live series #WeTurnToBooks. Osondu is the author of the short story collection Voice of America (2010) and the novel This House is Not for Sale (2015). Born in Nigeria, he received his MFA from Syracuse University and is the winner of the Caine Prize for African Writing, a Pushcart Prize and, most recently, the BOA Fiction Prize for his short story collection Alien Stories, to be published by BOA Editions in Spring 2021. His fiction has appeared in The Atlantic, n+1, Guernica, and other publications, and he currently teaches at Providence College in Rhode Island.

Apart from delighting us with his witticisms, Osondu shared with us what he’s been reading lately. Whereas our previous guests had mentioned a renewed fondness for poetry, Osondu said that he had been turning to travel books as a way of escaping, if momentarily, the present lockdown. Among his favorites are:

Dervla Murphy’s The Ukimwi Road: From Kenya to Zimbabwe (1993)

Ryszard Kapuściński’s The Shadow of the Sun (1998, trans. 2001 by by Klara Glowczewska)

Colin Thubron’s In Siberia (1999)

Damon Galgut’s In a Strange Room (2010)

Paul Theroux’s Deep South: Four Seasons on Back Roads (2015)

If you missed the live chat, watch it below or on our Instagram TV channel. Watch our previous chats with Ato Quayson, Mukoma wa Ngũgĩ, and Jeanne-Marie Jackson-Awotwi too!