Monday, March 23, 2015

Between the Lines: Time of the Locust

by Zinta Aistars
for WMUK 102.1 FM

Between the Lines is my weekly radio show about books and writers with a Michigan connection. It airs every Tuesday at 7:50 a.m., 11:55 a.m., and 4:20 p.m. (or listen anytime online), on WMUK 102.1 FM, Southwest Michigan's NPR affiliate. I am the host of Between the Lines.

This week's guest: Morowa Yejidé.

Morowa Yejidé at a book signing.

As is often true of “overnight successes,” Morowa Yejidé’s (pronounced: Moe-roe-wah Yay-gee-day) debut novel quickly gained critical and popular acclaim but took about ten years to write. Time of the Locust (Atria Books/Simon & Schuster, 2014) is a finalist for the national PEN/Bellwether Prize , received First Honorable Mention in the national 2011 Dana Awards, and is a 2015 NAACP Image Award Nominee for Outstanding Literary Work.

Yejidé, who is married with three sons, wrote the book in the spare time she didn’t have, taking advantage of occasional bouts of insomnia, hours between work in academia, and even time in the bathtub when the door was locked to all distraction for three-hour baths. Submitting the manuscript to publishers more than 100 times, she filed away the rejections and kept sending it off, undaunted.

Time of the Locust is a magical realism, literary fiction type of novel,” Yejidé says. “It tells the story of a seven-year-old autistic boy named Sephiri and a supernatural relationship he has with his incarcerated father.”
Autism and incarceration are just two of the heavy topics Yejidé takes on in the novel. The boy's mother Brenda copes with single parenthood while her son’s father Horus serves time for killing a racist police officer who shot his father but went unpunished. Horus is in solitary confinement in a maximum security prison, increasingly escaping his isolation and despair by escaping in his mind. Brenda buries her stress in food, leading to obesity and diabetes. Yejidé manages to juggle all of these issues, dropping nothing, each character and issue fully developed.
“Writing for me is ...

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