Sarah Ládípọ̀ Manyika likes to begin phone calls with a question: “How much time do you have?” Because there is never too little to say and certainly never a shortage of ideas. The only thing that can stop Sarah’s rapid-fire creativity is the clock.
Born and raised in Nigeria, this daughter of a Nigerian minister-missionary father and a British physiotherapist-art historian-poet mum can remember being mesmerized by Bible stories in Sunday school, and by her Yorkshire grandma’s wartime tales.
As a child she read voraciously and was an active fan of her favorite writers. She wrote to Roald Dahl because she was anxious to learn how one of his stories would end. By the time she received his reply, she’d already finished the book. Here’s what Dahl wrote: “I’m afraid this is a very short reply. I wish I could send you a long one — but there are such a lot of letters to be answered, and there is a new book to be written, and a million other things to be done, so please forgive me.” We hope this is her reply to every comment on her OZY features.
Despite failing her English literature A-level exam in high school, Sarah went on to earn her Ph.D. from UC Berkeley; she also taught literature at San Francisco State University. Her writing process simply involves eavesdropping, imagining, performing, scribbling on scraps of paper and tapping on keyboards. These days, college-bound students in Nigeria are required to read Sarah’s first novel, In Dependence, a story about a cross-cultural love affair set against a backdrop of political uncertainty. Her most recent novel, Like a Mule Bringing Ice Cream to the Sun, was short-listed for the Goldsmiths Prize.
A foodie at heart, Sarah can cook up more than a good story and even competed for a slot on Master Chef back in the 1990s. She has met many iconic figures, from Toni Morrison to Pope Francis, and she has lived all over the world, from Lagos, Jos and Nairobi to Birmingham, Bordeaux, London and now San Francisco.
Her vision for OZY Books? To mix things up by featuring the Ishiguros and Morrisons of this world as well as the Aribisalas, Raos and Huchus. Her aim is to excite and delight readers and listeners with the best reads and top-notch literary discussions from around the world.
Success, she says, “looks like fringed tulips, smells like fried plantains and tastes like strawberries and cream.” We’ll take it.