This Week, June 16, on “Writers on Writing” Radio Show: Helon Habila Author of “Travelers”s

Tune In This Week

Sunday, June 16, 2019

“Writers on Writing” Radio Show

WNYE 91.5 FM

7:00 PM– 7:30 PM

Interview with Helon Habila

With Guest Host Clarence V. Reynolds, Director

The Center for Black Literature at Medgar Evers College, CUNY

Listen at WMEC Radio:


About the Episode

Clarence V. Reynolds interviews writer Helon Habila, author of his recent book Travelers (W. W. Norton, June 2019), a novel about the interconnected lives of African immigrants, as well as refugees, in Europe, in which the writer examines meanings of freedom and home. Reynolds and Habila discuss his journey as a writer; setting stories in his African homeland; drawing inspiration and creating characters from real situations and people; and the freedom of expression that comes from writing.


About the Author

Helon Habila is a novelist and poet who was born in Nigeria. He studied English Language and literature at the University of Jos in Nigeria and the University of East Anglia, in the U.K. Before writing novels, he worked as an editor at a magazine and a newspaper in Lagos. He is the author of the acclaimed novels Waiting for an Angel, Measuring Time, and Oil on Water. Apart from his novels, Habila wrote The Chibok Girls, in 2016, an account of the more than 250 girls from the Chibok Secondary School in northern Nigeria were kidnapped by the terrorist group Boko Haram. In 2005, Habila was invited by Chinua Achebe to become the first Chinua Achebe Fellow at Bard College, New York. In 2015, he received a Windham-Campbell Prize for Fiction, from Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library at Yale University. Habila divides his time between his native Nigeria and in the U.S., where he lives with his wife and children. He is a professor of creative writing at George Mason University in Virginia.


About the Book

A startlingly imaginative exploration of the African diaspora in Europe, by one of our most acclaimed international writers.

Award-winning author Helon Habila has been described as “a courageous tale teller with an uncompromising vision…a major talent” (Rawi Hage). His new novel Travelers is a life-changing encounter with those who have been uprooted by war or aspiration, fear or hope.

A Nigerian graduate student who has made his home in America knows what it means to strike out for new shores. When his wife proposes that he accompany her to Berlin, where she has been awarded a prestigious arts fellowship, he has his reservations: “I knew every departure is a death, every return a rebirth. Most changes happen unplanned, and they always leave a scar.”

In Berlin, Habila’s central character finds himself thrown into contact with a community of African immigrants and refugees whose lives previously seemed distant from his own, but to which he is increasingly drawn. The walls between his privileged, secure existence and the stories of these other Africans on the move soon crumble, and his sense of identity begins to dissolve as he finds that he can no longer separate himself from others’ horrors, or from Africa.

A lean, expansive, heart-rending exploration of loss and of connection, Travelers inscribes unforgettable signposts—both unsettling and luminous—marking the universal journey in pursuit of love and home. From