Odour Jagero interview: Oduor Jagero burst onto the Kenyan literary scene in 2014 with his self-published debut novel True Citizen. The book was launched with some funfair and had decent reviews both like this one from Nduta Waweru then at the Star.
The new book Ghosts of 1894 centres on the genocide that happened 1994 as close to a million Rwandans were killed by their fellow countrymen. This blogger has already interviewed this writer so instead of doing another interview, I opted to ask five questions that are related his new book (which incidentally we love). Here you go;
JamesMurua.com (JM.com): This is your second novel. Just like with your first one True Citizen, you opted to go down the route of being self-published. Tells us more.
Oduor Jagero (OJ): Self-Publishing makes you take charge of your book; how you want it to look and feel. While traditional publishing has its advantages such as larger distribution and sometimes better quality, self-publishing when done well can be an alternative to the same. I have only about so many years to live: say 80 years. Traditional publishers have a tendency of being choosy and elitist. That is fine. They are in business and they want material that will give them the most bucks and the best name. That is understandable. I also want my books to be out. So I try to do it like they do. This is what they do: they get in-house editors to thoroughly work on the book. They get quality proof-readers to sanitize the manuscript before they get a superb graphics designer to come up with the title and the inside text. I try and get the same people to work on my book(s) – to the best I can. I would not mind being published by a traditional publisher. But I say let’s meet somewhere along the way. While they make big bucks, let me hone my skills and tell my stories in my own little way.
JM.com: Why Rwanda?
OJ: You can say the book is about Rwanda. But the book is actually about a Rwandese. Anybody who reads that book will find themselves in Uganda, Kenya, and even America. The setting is majorly Rwanda where this tale of survival starts. So I wouldn’t say the book is about Rwanda. The country is merely a setting.
JM.com: While going through your war torn Rwanda the book gets disjointed for this reader with characters that were the main protagonists leaving the scene and new protagonists taking the tale. How did you flesh out your plot?
OJ: I write in pictures and I like to tell my stories the way life usually happens. If you stand at a junction, you’ll see a lady with the red stilettos gingerly walking by. She is the subject at that time. When you look to the other side, you’ll see a city council worker cleaning the alleyway. The story has more than a few characters. They are all part of the Ghosts of 1894.
JM.com: This book talks about a period two decades ago in a country without a lot of written material available to many in Kenya. How did you research this book?
I was in Rwanda for about eight months visiting libraries. People might not know but Rwanda has a lot about it’s flattering history, whether of the war or traditions in so many books. There are also very many books about Rwanda you can read out there.