12 Apr 2016

Author Interview / Sarah Ladipo Manyika

Morayo Da Silva, a cosmopolitan Nigerian woman, lives in hip San Francisco. On the cusp of seventy-five, she is in good health and makes the most of it, enjoying road trips in her vintage Porsche, chatting to strangers, and recollecting characters from her favourite novels. Then she has a fall and her independence crumbles. Without the support of family, she relies on friends and chance encounters. As Morayo recounts her story, moving seamlessly between past and present, we meet Dawud, a charming Palestinian shopkeeper, Sage, a feisty, homeless Grateful Dead devotee, and Antonio, the poet whom Morayo desired more than her ambassador husband.

A subtle story about ageing, friendship and loss, this is also a nuanced study of the erotic yearnings of an older woman.

“Dr. Morayo Da Silva is one of the most memorable characters you are likely to encounter on the page – intelligent, indomitable, author and survivor of a large life. In dreamlike prose, Manyika dips in and out of her present, her past, in a story that argues always for generosity, for connection, for a vigorous and joyful endurance." - Karen Joy Fowler, author of We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves

“Manyika's story about an elderly Nigerian woman is quiet, sophisticated and it expands the canon of contemporary African literature into welcome new territory.”
- Bernardine Evaristo, author of Mr Loverman

“If aging be a lamp, then Morayo, the protagonist in Like a Mule Bringing Ice Cream to the Sun is a mesmerizing glow. Astute, sensual, funny, and moving.” - NoViolet Bulawayo, author of We Need New Names

“A wonderfully constructed novel, always surprising and wrong-footing the reader at every turn and challenging one's assumptions about the Other. Like a Mule Bringing Ice Cream to the Sun is a delightful multi-helical reading experience that speaks to our times in insightful and pleasantly understated ways." - Brian Chikwava, author of Harare North


1.  If you could work with any other author, who would it be and why?

This week it would be John Berger for his powers of observation and Shonda Rhimes for tips on plotting.

2.  What would be a typical working day for you? When and where do you write?

My ideal working day would include several hours of writing and reading (anywhere that’s quiet) and some time outside (preferably with sunshine and ice cream ... but not a mule).

3.  What is the hardest part of the writing for you?

Writing the first draft can often be challenging.

4.  When and why did you first start writing?

I started writing in my teens for two reasons  - one was to better understand things in life that perplexed or troubled me, the other was to write stories that I was longing to read, but couldn’t find. These are the same reasons that drive me to write today. 

5.  How did you come up with the idea for your book?

I was longing to find really good books about older women and so …

6.  Are you a big reader? If so, what are you reading now?

I just finished Ruth Ozeki’s The Face and Jhump Lahiri’s, In Other Words, both of which I loved. Currently reading Helen Oyeyemi’s Boy, Snow, Bird  - and what a fabulous writer she is.

7.  Do you have any advice for other aspiring writers?

Write and read as much as you can and have fun while you’re doing it.
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