Monday, February 12, 2007

Scalpel or keyboard?

  • Marcus Franklin profiles Uzodinma Iweala for The Associated Press.
Iweala's debut Beasts of No Nation was intimidatingly good, and it's nice to see that he has refused to fall into the literary lock-step by choosing to go to med school at Columbia University this fall... not before finishing the first book of a two-book deal for HarperCollins, of course.
Iweala grew up in a Washington, D.C., suburb, the second child and first son of Ikemba, an emergency-room doctor, and Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, a Harvard and Massachusetts Institute of Technology-educated economist, and former Nigerian finance minister and World Bank vice president. Iweala's older sister is studying to be a doctor at Harvard Medical School and his two younger brothers are Harvard undergraduates.

...As he entered Harvard, his parents "strongly suggested" he focus on premed but he insists they weren't dictatorial. He also majored in English, American Literature and Language. He'd planned to go to medical school right out of Harvard. But that was before the unexpected publication and success of "Beasts."

Writers, to a degree, exist in a bubble, Iweala said, because they are removed from other people. As a doctor — a doctor with extraordinary writing abilities — he believes he can have greater impact.

"Who says that's the absolute rule: that you can't do the two together, that you can't do the two together well and that it won't enrich your life to have both?"

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