The book I am currently reading
The Shadow King by Maaza Mengiste. Maaza and I bonded over jollof rice in a canteen at the Aké festival in Nigeria a few years ago and this book effortlessly demonstrates her brilliance.
The book that changed my life
Folks always expect me to mention one of the Nigerian greats, but it was Pyramids by Terry Pratchett.
The book I wish I’d written
The entirety of Marvel Comics’ Civil War series. It is one of the most political, imaginative and epic exercises in multi-perspective, multi-narrative storytelling. The echoes are still felt across the Marvel Universe.
The book that most influenced my writing
The Art and Craft of Poetry by Michael J Bugeja showed me the limitlessness in mining oneself for ideas to write about, and various ways of exercising and executing that impulse. Because of it, I never had writer’s block. I just get tired and need to switch things up.
The book that changed my mind was A Thinking Person’s Guide to Islam by HRH Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad
The book that changed my mind
A Thinking Person’s Guide to Islam by Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad. It is astonishing, beautiful, detailed, precise and shows the elegance of the Muslim faith, how intertwined it is with Arabic, arithmetic, architecture, and how the construction of a mosque is almost a spiritual endeavour. It inspired two plays I’m currently working on.
The last book that made me cry
Let the Trumpet Sound. A Life of Martin Luther King, Jr by Stephen B Oates. I remember getting to the part where Dr King was killed, and sobbing. I was in my mother’s room. She came in wondering what was wrong.
My reading guilty pleasure
Years ago, universal forces of synchronicity drew writers Roger Robinson, Jacob Sam La-Rose, Nii Parkes and I to the Borders bookshop on Charing Cross Road, London, where we’d read the latest X-Men comics. I still do this, but on my own, in WHSmith at Liverpool Street Station or the Waterstones near Green Park.
The last book that made me laugh
Basketball (and Other Things) by Shea Serrano. It is relentlessly funny, witty and over the top. There’s a chapter called Which Dunks Are in the Disrespectful Dunk Hall of Fame.
The book I couldn’t finish
I don’t wanna say. He is an acquaintance, a fine dude, and has had a huge influence on my work. I’ve written poems based on some of his earlier work, but that last book was … damn. I just couldn’t get through it.
The book I’m ashamed not to have read
The Wretched of the Earth by Frantz Fanon – in fact, anything by him. It is really embarrassing. When I’m among the black literati and they start quoting him, I just mumble into my pint of apple juice and look at my shoes.
My earliest reading memory
Charles Dickens’s Oliver Twist. I think I was seven or eight, in Nigeria, reading about a world I had never been to, but feeling like I wanted to hang with li’l Ollie, see if he could play basketball. I wanted to shoot Fagan with the catapult I reserved for lizards. What a dweeb.
• Inua Ellams’s The Half-God of Rainfall is at the Kiln theatre, London NW6, from 25 April. kilntheatre.com.