Meet Morowa Yejidé, author of the Women’s Prize 2022 longlisted novel Creatures of Passage.
The Washington Post’s review said ‘Every once in a while, a novel is so compelling that it changes your sense of a place. Morowa Yejidé’s “Creatures of Passage” is that book.’
Location is key to the book, but what was the inspiration behind the novel? We grabbed a quick five minutes with each of the authors behind the longlisted books to ask that question and more…
Describe in three words how it feels to be longlisted for the 2022 Women’s Prize for Fiction
Pinch of magic.
What inspired you to write Creatures of Passage?
My family came to Washington DC from the American South at the turn of the twentieth century. I imagine the leaps of faith taken, the great triumphs, and the losses suffered. My grandmother was among the first black female cab drivers in the city in the1960s, one of three.The early seeds of what became Creatures of Passage grew out of wondering about the people who got into her car, the stories attached to the places she took them, and the kind of fortitude it must have taken for her to drive through the adversities she endured.
Can you describe Creatures of Passage in one sentence?
Creatures of Passage is about the haunted travels of a one-of-kind Washington DC taxi driver in 1977, a death dreamer, a young boy caught in the snare of a child predator, and the healing that can only come from learning the truth.
Are there any locations that have a special connection for the book?
My book is littered with mystical sites around Washington DC but particularly historic Anacostia – an arguably forgotten quadrant in the south eastern quadrant of the city isolated by rivers and bridges. In the book I recount places there such as the home of abolitionist Frederick Douglass – which was a block away from my grandmother’s house – and St. Elizabeths psychiatric hospital, where my aunt worked as a head nurse for many years.
What was the first thing you ever wrote?
I did a piece when I was 12 years old called “The Storm,” which was all about the wild feelings of a storm cloud and her adventures changing patterns.
Why did you become a writer?
My mother was a painter and as a very young child I watched her create worlds with oil and canvas. I discovered I enjoyed using words to create images in the mind and fell in love with the challenge of writing realities into being on paper.