Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor was the first guest of Season 2 of Afrolit Sans Frontières streaming on Instagram from Nairobi, Kenya on April 20, 2020. She was hosted by Maaza Mengiste.
Afrolit Sans Frontières, a new initiative for writers of African origin, was started in March as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic international lockdown. Like its first edition, Season 2 of the festival is set to feature some of the leading names in African letters today with curation by Maaza Mengiste and festival founder Zukiswa Wanner. This season features 16 writers from 14 countries streaming from 13 cities in English, French, and Portuguese over eight days under the festival theme “What I Wish You’d Ask Me.”
Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor has written the novels Dust (Knopf, 2014), and The Dragonfly Sea (Knopf, 2019), as well as stories and essays in numerous literary magazines, anthologies, and journals. She was the first writer to kick off the second season of the festival that we have all come to love. She started by reading from her newest novel The Dragonfly Sea picking a period at the beginning when Ayaana is still a child.
The host for the day Maaza Mengiste then asked Yvonne a question that goes with the theme. Her question was, “If there was a rocket ship, into Andromeda in an earth-like planet and you would never return to earth by decree of the intergalactic council, with a choice of three other writers living or dead that you would have with you in this place, who would these be and why?” Yvonne’s picks were J.R.R. Tolkien, Rabindranath Tagore, Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Basho (she was allowed an extra pick) who would help open new worlds and new stories.
The event host logged off and Yvonne started fielding questions from the dozens online from her favourite writer (she has too many favourites), what African writer she wanted to hug (all of them), what books she was willing to burn in an emergency (none, the thought is sacrilege), was she an Afropolitan (no, she is an African), how had the Covid-19 pandemic affected her writing (she was expecting writing to come from this period) and much more.
You can watch the session in full below.