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Samuel Kọ́láwọlé Discusses Writing Process In Paterno Library Reading

Samuel Kọ́láwọlé, an assistant professor of English and fiction writer at Penn State, held his first reading at the university in Paterno Library’s Foster Auditorium Thursday.

Born and raised in Ibadan, Nigeria, Kọ́láwọlé said his home has been an inspiration in his writing.

“I woke up, drove to the slums, and watched them. There is a lot to learn from the poor,” Kọ́láwọlé said. “I watch people a lot. I am very visual, so I have to see it to write it.”

Kọ́láwọlé’s work has appeared in numerous publications, including The Hopkins Review, Harvard Review, and more. He has also received scholarships, fellowships, and residences from numerous writing centers and publications, such as the Norman Mailer Center and the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa for his fiction.

At Thursday’s event, Kọ́láwọlé read a section from his short stories “Waiting for Jemima” and “Aperture,” as well as a section from his upcoming novel “The Road to Salt Sea,” which will be published Amistad/HarperCollins in 2024.

“Waiting for Jemima” centers around a young woman running away from home, and “Aperture” follows a one-eyed wedding photographer. “The Road to Salt Sea” follows a protagonist traveling through a Trans-Saharan Migrant route from Nigeria to Italy as a refugee.

A cornerstone of Kọ́láwọlé’s work is the character’s journey, particularly how one can affect their outlook on life. Kọ́láwọlé uses this journey to “imbue the story with momentum,” which propels the story forward.

“Find what inspires you,” Kọ́láwọlé said. “Don’t forget that you can borrow from real life.”

To learn more about future creative writing events at Penn State, visit the program’s website.

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About the Author

Gracie Mullan

Gracie is a junior from Delaware County, Pa, studying telecommunications with a minor in English. In her free time, Gracie likes to read, write, and drink coffee. Get in touch with Gracie on her Instagram @gracie.mullan and for more formal inquiries [email protected]

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