Okey Ndibe is an award-winning author and essayist. He published his first novel, Arrows of Rain, in 2000. The New York Times listed Ndibe’s second novel, Foreign Gods Inc., as one of the best books of the year. After finishing Foreign Gods Inc., a story about a Nigerian immigrant who learns that the American dream isn’t guaranteed to everyone, Ndibe went on to pen the story of his own entry into the United States in his memoir, Never Look an American in the Eye.
Rolling out sat down with the esteemed writer to discuss the many challenges of writing during a global crisis.
As a writer, in what ways has the pandemic challenged you, and how have you persevered?
It’s been difficult because I am a creature who likes movement, who likes travel. So the whole lockdown has, in many ways, felt like a “lock-up.” It’s been absolutely painful, to put it mildly. However, I was speaking recently with a friend, and she said that she no longer records what she’s lost. She’s reckoning with what she’s gained. … And, as a writer, one of the things that the pandemic has gifted us with is time — time to be with my family but also time to write. I was able to finish work on another novel that I’ve been wrestling with for four years. I finally finished it, and I’m actually on the cusp of finishing the edits for it. So, while this time has been difficult, it has also been productive.
Ndibe gives advice to aspiring writers on the next page.