Hauwa Shaffii Nuhu On The Books That Shaped Her Writing
Today Hauwa Shaffii Nuhu shares with us her reflection on the books that shaped her as a writer.
“When I'm asked about my mentors, or people who have shaped my evolution and growth as a writer and even as a human being, the first thing that comes to mind is books.
|Photo by Debby Hudson on Unsplash|
Books have held my hand through life, through long nights filled with so much darkness I can't find my own hand, and through days filled with so much light I do not know what to do with it. Without books, I'd have been completely lost.
I still remember the day I discovered the magic that is Safia Elhillo. That day after I read a particular poem of hers online, I was wild with an intense kind of gratitude. I call it gratitude because I was grateful for the gift. Before then, I didn't know that I was allowed to write poems like that. Safia Elhillo's poetry held me softly by the heart and said "child, you can write whatever you want to write. If that happens to include poems about your identity as a Muslim, the better for your readers". And so I have come to hold her book, The January Children, as some sort of holy book. It lies beside me even as I write this, flanked by Fatimah Asghar's If They Come for Us, and Danez Smith's Don't Call Us Dead. It's one of my most valuable possessions.
Another book I hold so dearly is The Sense of An Ending by Julian Barnes. In that book, Julian Barnes handles sentences with a sort of delicateness and mastery that borders on sorcery. I return to it on nights I need to be pampered by beauty, but also by genius.
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green should have been the first on this list. But these things happen. It is the dearest thing to me. It makes me feel. Always. I have read it more than I have read any other book. Isuspect I might have the whole book memorized. His latest work, "Turtles All The Way Down" is also a lesson in excavation of the soul.
The Friend by Sigrid Nunez is another masterpiece that opened my mind to the worlds present in the possibility of language. It reveals writing as a mood, but also as a lullaby to the heart. That writing moves, and that narration can employ a craft that overwhelms you, in a way that simply eludes you. That bookscan be described as gorgeous.
Yiyun Li in her memoir "Dear Friend, from my life I write to you in your life" tells us what a beautiful thing a sad thing can be.
What a beautiful thing language is.”