Canada Reads

Francesca Ekwuyasi says having her novel Butter Honey Pig Bread on Canada Reads is 'a dream come true'

Chef and TV host Roger Mooking is championing Butter Honey Pig Bread on Canada Reads 2021.

Chef and TV host Roger Mooking is championing Butter Honey Pig Bread on Canada Reads 2021

Francesca Ekwuyasi is the author of Butter Honey Pig Bread. (Submitted by Francesca Ekwuyasi/CBC)

Francesca Ekwuyasi is a writer, filmmaker and visual artist who was born in Lagos, Nigeria, and currently lives in Halifax. Butter Honey Pig Bread is her first book.

Butter Honey Pig Bread is a novel about twin sisters Kehinde and Taiye, and their mother, Kambirinachi. Kambirinachi believes she was a spirit who was supposed to die as a small child. By staying alive, she is cursing her family — a fear that appears to come true when Kehinde experiences something that tears the family apart, and divides the twins for years. But when the three women connect years later, they must confront their past and find forgiveness.

Chef and TV host Roger Mooking is championing Butter Honey Pig Bread on Canada Reads 2021.

Canada Reads will take place March 8-11. The debates will be hosted by Ali Hassan and will be broadcast on CBC Radio OneCBC TVCBC Gem and on CBC Books

Ekwuyasi spoke to CBC Radio's Chris dela Torre on Afternoon Drive in London about what it's like having a book on Canada Reads.

The author of Butter Honey Pig Bread talks about what it's like to have a novel on Canada Reads 2021.

Tell us what Butter Honey Pig Bread is about.

Butter Honey Pig Bread is about the relationship between three women, a mother and her twin daughters. It centres around their own self-perception, their relationships with each other and with the people that come into their lives. It's a slow, relationship-focused book. But it's also about food and faith and forgiveness.

How did you end up writing a novel that centres around these themes?

Because I wanted to. When I started writing it, it was the thing in my heart. So I just started. Then the more I wrote, the more ideas and connections came. I also love to read. My writing is very informed by other things that I read and listen to.

It's the story of twin sisters. How much personal experience do you have with that special bond between twins?

I'm not a twin, but I am a sister. I love being a sister. I love being in relationships. I wanted to write that. And I'm fascinated by twins. Perhaps because I'm not a twin, maybe that's why I'm fascinated.

What would you say is the one thing that you want people to take away from reading Butter Honey Pig Bread?

I want people to enjoy it. I love reading and there's nothing quite like getting lost in a book. My hope is that folks will enjoy it.

I'm completely intimidated, but in the best possible way. It's literally a dream come true.

Because the themes are forgiveness and reconciliation, I hope that people may feel inspired to mend strained relationships.

Your book's defender is the chef and TV host and former musician Roger Mooking. What was it like meeting him and talking about the book?

Oh, it was so incredible. He's so cool. And I'm so honoured that he loves the book. He really read it. You can tell when someone has read in-depth into something you've created. He had questions about specific details. I feel so lucky to have met him and to have him defend my novel.

Roger Mooking on discovering and championing Black writers

1 year ago
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The chef, recording artist and TV host is defending Butter Honey Pig Bread by Francesca Ekwuyasi on Canada Reads 2021.

It's got to be a strange position for you because, as you said, you want people to read your book and to enjoy it. But your book is about to be debated, it's going to be pored over. What do you make of the fact that it's part of this competition?

This sounds like a huge deal, very intimidating. I'm completely intimidated, but in the best possible way. It's literally a dream come true. Because of Canada Reads, people who might not have even heard about the book will now hear about it and maybe pick it up and maybe even like it. So I'm definitely intimidated and overwhelmed, but grateful for the chance.

We often speak to authors who say, "I cannot bear to tune in. I'm not going to listen because it's too nerve-wracking for me." Are you going to be tuning in?

I'm going to tune in after March 8. March 8 is my birthday, I don't want to be anxious on my birthday. But after the eighth, I will be enthusiastically watching whether or not I'm still in the running.

The Canada Reads 2021 contenders

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