Oyinkan Braithwaite on Making Murder Fun
The Author of My Sister, the Serial Killer on The Maris Review
This week on The Maris Review, Oyinkan Braithwaite joins Maris Kreizman to discuss her new book My Sister, the Serial Killer.
On making murder funny:
Maris Kreizman: How do you make murder funny, especially when it comes from a place of abuse?
Oyinkan Braithwaite: I do not know the answer to that question. I just have a weird sense of humor. The things that I find funny are probably not always funny in reality. When you phrase the question like that, I have to pause and ask myself, how do you make multiple murders funny? I have no idea, but stylistically it ended up being funny because of the juxtaposition of light and darkness.
The characters aren’t weighed down—or at least in the way that they should be—by the things that occur. They’re very matter-of-fact about it. As a writer, I am very matter-of-fact about it. I imagine the readers reading it and thinking, this is not a normal response to this thing that is taking place.
On love and blindness:
OB: When you are watching a friend of yours—someone you care about—in a relationship that is harmful to them in some way, and you want to say, Can’t you see what I’m seeing? This guy is bad for you, this girl is bad for you. You need to walk away. A lot of people don’t. A lot of people aren’t able to walk away. In a lot of ways, it is because they are in the situation. They are unable to see it objectively, and I think a lot of readers see that with Korede. Can’t you see that [her sister Ayoola] is manipulating you? Can’t you see that this is not good for you? But all Korede can think about is her love, duty, and her responsibility.
On the Nigerian publishing industry:
OB: The Nigerian publishing industry has the best intentions but not a lot of money. They don’t have the freedom. I remember talking to one of my editors in the UK, and he was saying that publishing literary fiction is really just an act of passion for the most part because those books won’t normally sell. The one that sells will sell brilliantly, but you can only do that if the company has money from other sources. Nigerian publishers don’t have that room to do this because they love it. They have to think more about where the money is going to come from, so they have little to do passion projects with. They can’t do many passion projects. We have so many more writers than we do the platforms for them to publish with.
Oyinkan Braithwaite is a graduate of Creative Writing and Law from Kingston University. She is the author of My Sister, the Serial Killer, which won the 2019 LA Times Award for Best Crime Thriller, the 2019 Morning News Tournament of Books and was shortlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2019, and, most recently, was longlisted for the Booker Prize.
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