‘Adolescence Is a Relatively Young Concept.’ Edwin Okolo’s First Draft

Writer and author of ‘Iyibo My First’, Edwin Okolo, wishes more people realized the novelty of adolescence: ‘I wish more people understood that boarding schools merely compound a cardinal problem: adolescence is a relatively young concept. As early as 150 years ago, you were a child, and then became an adult.’

First Draft is our interview column, featuring authors and other prominent figures on books, reading, and writing.

Our questions are italicized.

What books or kinds of books were on your secondary school reading list/curriculum?

I went to a unity college with an impressive library thanks to a British Council grant. Classes were boring so I hung out at the library a lot and entertained myself with the beautiful illustrations of exotic animals in the library’s American biology textbooks. I spent the next few years working my way through the library’s fantasy section, devouring the unabridged version of Arabian Nights with the complete 1001 stories, Thomas Harris and his Hannibal Lecter series, Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes and the collective works of the Brothers Grimm.

We were only allowed a few hours in the library each day and were not allowed to take the books out of the library. So, eventually, I took to ‘borrowing’ the books for the long holidays. I think I still have a few of them at my house somewhere.

What other books or kinds of books did you read growing up?

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