Julie Iromuanya’s relatives have tried several times to set her up with an eligible bachelor when she would visit family in Nigeria.
The uncertainty of meeting a stranger for a date is part of the inspiration of Iromuanya’s book, “Mr. and Mrs. Doctor,” a story about a Nigerian couple in an arranged marriage.
“There are a lot of spaces and places where inspiration can come from,” Iromuanya said.
The writer and scholar spoke about her book and what inspires her writing Thursday morning at the University of Houston-Victoria’s ABR Reading Series.
Iromuanya read a selection from “Mr. and Mrs. Doctor,” which was met with laughs and head-shakes from those in the audience.
In the passage, the two main characters, Ifi and Job, were attempting to consummate their arranged marriage.
Iromuanya’s story-telling highlighted both the awkwardness of the situation and the societal and cultural differences between the Nigerian couple.
At one point, wife Ifi thought her husband received pay for his medical career in more ways than cash after he showed her a passage in a magazine the night of their honeymoon.
Marketing student Juan Pina liked that Iromuanya spoke so openly about subjects that are typically found to be taboo.
“I thought she was very interesting because she takes chances with her writing,” Pina, 19, said.
He said he could also relate to Iromuanya, as she is from a Nigerian family and his family is from Mexico.
Ilse Zavala, a biology student, said she enjoys attending the ABR Reading Series. She found Iromuanya’s writing “fearless.”
“I liked how honest she is about things like arranged marriages, and how every relationship can experience road bumps,” Zavala, 20, said.
Iromuanya said she is also inspired by stories of her family or events in Nigeria. She said she feels it is important to explore the truth within communities or families, such as those who experienced trauma in war.
“There is a truth-telling mission in fiction,” she said.