Abubakar Adam Ibrahim is an author from northern Nigeria who was recently awarded US$100,000 for his novel. In the well-regarded literary magazine Brittle Paper, poet and author Toni Kan called it ‘a career and generation defining novel, one that captures the angst and dysfunction that is contemporary Nigerian history.’

He beat 173 authors to win the Nigeria Prize for Literature, which is only awarded every four years.

But which books have inspired the first-time author?

‘I suppose my favourite books change as I read more and discover new works,’ the voracious reader tells me, ‘but, off the cuff, here are some of my favourites.’

Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

This is a unique book. I have a very strange relationship with this book. I love it because I hate it and I hate it because I love it. How Nabokov deployed language is beautiful but the subject matter of the book is a very disturbing one. Ultimately what Nabokov succeeded in doing is to present us with something so appalling in such a beautiful way we can’t help but read on. He made art out of something so distasteful. That is genius.

Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

I love what Marquez does with this book. Sheer prose, very few lines of dialogues and incredibly wild and funny characters in a truly chaotic love story that spanned half a century. One of my all-time favourites.

The Life of Pi by Yann Martel

I love this book because of the adventures is takes the reader on. Martel did a clever thing in intersecting three faiths in the body of a young man and throwing this boy and a tiger on a small raft in the sea. It is a remarkable story told in a remarkable way. I didn’t expect they could make a good film out of it. Ang Lee did an incredible job with that.

The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje

What is there not to love about this story, about the writing? Ondaatje collects a handful of intriguing characters and throws them into a small Italian Villa during WWII. What follows is a marvellous unraveling. A brilliant novel with lucid language.

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

My generation has always known an Afghanistan of wars. Hosseini shows us a different version of this country with its rich history and great beauty. And he also shows us the vicious side. And all these with a very sympathetic and moving story of two women, a generation and class apart, who ended up marrying the same man and how their lives intersect under the watchful eyes of the Taliban.

A truly moving story.

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