Akwaeke Emezi on death, magic and life as an outsider
‘My community is real and valid’ — We speak to the trailblazing author behind one of the most anticipated books of the year, The Death of Vivek Oji.
Written by: Kate Wyver
As the co-founder of groundbreaking indie publishing imprints Zero and Repeater Books, Tariq Goddard has spent years championing scores of voices that may never have been heard otherwise. An acclaimed novelist himself, the mission of both Zero and Repeater has mirrored that of Huck – to provide a platform for narratives shut out of the mainstream. In our latest episode of the Joining the Dots podcast, Tariq joins us to talk about a decade in the publishing industry, an unlikely and enduring friendship with British musicians Suede, and the ever-influential Mark Fisher.
“Being a writer and a publisher is like being a player-manager in football. You understand what it is to play and want to be picked, how your entire world depends on your game. And then from the other side, you are having to manage many other people like that, including yourself. I think my time as an author gave me a good insight not only into what it feels like to be an author but why writing is important to authors, why it is their entire universe. As a publisher, I have respect for that. I am at the service of authors, in the way that I wanted publishers to be with me when I was writing.”
“When we started Zero, it was very much an anomaly, unusual, strange, nearly esoteric on the fringes and on the margins. Whereas with Repeater now, without really changing our mission statement, our goals or our writers we work with, is solidly mainstream. And that is partly because of the way millennials have created a new political climate that hopefully, we might have modestly influenced.”
“Perhaps if anything lasting comes out of the COVID period for us, it is that Repeater will be able to take advantage of a new conservatism that kicks in, a new aversion to risk. Because in the last 10 years since Zero, the mainstream publishers don’t seem to have taken the hint. They don’t seem to have adjusted or changed, or embraced anything challenging, which is why we are still necessary.”
“One of the great things about being a writer is that no matter how many bad things happen to you, it could all be material. It could all be redemption and salvation. You can take the blackest, most dead-end cul-de-sac experience, and hopefully, through the process of writing, the alchemy will turn it into redemptive gold. Books are still the most effective way of distilling and presenting what you have to say and have to offer to the world.”
“He didn’t arrive with one massive systematic theory, he wasn’t a system builder. Instead, he took a passionate interest in what people liked, and from there looked to philosophise, universalise and understand why the world was working in the way that it was.”
Listen to Joining the Dots on acast, Spotify, iTunes, or wherever you get your podcasts and be sure to subscribe to get each new episode delivered straight to your feed.