Daily Trust (Abuja)

24 February 2013

Nigeria: This Week's Guest - Charles Novia, Nollywood Producer/Director, Award Winning Scriptwriter, Music Producer and Record Label Owner, Author, Bookaholic

opinion

I first met Charles Novia on television in the early 90's. He was presenting a youth programme on a dedicated youth belt on the NTA. I was taken by his smile and his seriousness all at once. He also had a hint of mischief. The script was good and the issues he discussed were topical. It was a breath of fresh air to see someone with such depth on a youth programme. Then when he closed the programme, he picked up his chair hung it on his shoulders and walked out of set. It was television magic and I was intrigued. From then on I became a fan and I knew he would go very far in the creative industry. I met him in real life many years later and my opinion has not changed. Charles is a walking creative billboard on every front; cerebral, eclectic, a kindred spirit. Enjoy his five favourite books.CURRENTLY READING:

This Bitch of a Life, by Carlos Moore. This is the biography of Fela. It gave me a fantastic insight into the man behind the music. Many things about Fela never heard or seen are in the book.

LAST BOOK YOU BOUGHT:

On Black Sisters' Street by Chika Unigwe. Chika is a good friend .We were in university together although I read Theatre and she read English. I think she was a set or two behind me but she has always been cerebral. She even published a book way back then on campus called Teardrops and she was only eighteen. I knew she would do well. On Black sisters' Street is about prostitution and she wrote it so well. It just won the NLNG prize for literature.

WHAT MAKES YOU BUY A BOOK IN A BOOKSHOP?

I am more interested in the packaging before the title. It's like the movies. It's what the eye sees that the hand goes for.

WHAT BOOK DO YOU WISH YOU HAD WRITTEN?

Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. It is so graphic, so descriptive. I write like that and I thought, wow, I could have written that. In 1999, I wrote a Biafra story for Kingsley Ogoro productions, which had a romantic motif. It was called Guns of Biafra, but the censors' board flagged it down. It was later released as "The battle of Love" and won six awards including best screenplay.

FIVE FAVOURITE BOOKS

1) The Godfather by Maria Puzzo. I read it when I was 11 and it took me into another world. I got an insight into the crime world. It was very intense. I have read it over and over again since then.

2) The Victims by Elechi Amadi. It was the first book I read that made me cry. It is a tragic story. Someone died in the end. It made me very sad.

3) Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe. Iconic; just for its sheer legacy to literature. I have read it in school, off school and I have seen the TV series.

4) Wilbur Smith's Books. Even though I have heard people say he is racist, I never saw that in the book. I thought he brilliantly brought out his characters. He was writing about old Rhodesia.He was forging a relationship between whites and blacks. I did not think he was condescending or showing a white supremacist slant. I think he was just telling his story.

5) A Long Walk to Freedom, Nelson Mandela. A very inspiring book. With all the years of incarceration, he did not have a vindictive agenda for his captors, a lesson in the power of forgiveness.

BONUS BOOKS

1. Power, Politics and Death by Olusegun Adeniyi. It's a brilliant book showing us the inside workings of a modern democracy, government machinery and political backbiting. Very revealing. I have always followed his columns in ThisDay. This book made me a bigger fan.

2. I Do Not Come to You by Chance by Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani. I was quite struck by her writing. I consider her a new generation writer who has promise.

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