Lauri Kubuitsile is a full time, award winning writer with more than twenty published books. She was shortlisted for the 2011 Caine Prize and twice won the only Pan African prize for children's writing, The Golden Baobab.
What is the importance of literacy
I think that’s sort of basic- people’s lives become very limited without the ability to read. Literacy means you can be a lifelong learner.
What is the importance of literature
Literature helps us record our stories. For writers, I think it helps us to see and understand the world in a clearer way. For readers, literature allows them to live an infinite number of lives in one lifetime.
What is the importance of reading for pleasure
You learn about other places in a more real way. It helps you to develop empathy. It engages your mind in ways films and TV cannot.
Please name one Motswana writer you think the (outside) world should read and tell us why
Wame Molefhe. I think she has a unique way of telling a story that is always firmly rooted in the soil of this country but not pedantically or clichéd.
How important is getting published
It was more important before I got published.
Are any of your books studied in local schools (at what level)
Yes. Primary and junior secondary.
Have you ever been invited as a guest writer to any school
Yes but only private schools, sadly.
Does the consideration that publishers want books that sell (mainly to fit the school syllabus) determine your themes
No, never. All of my prescribed books (the ones written only by me) were written with no intention of being prescribed.
What are the common themes in your writing
I have no common themes really, whatever comes comes. I do tend to hate injustice in any form so that often shows itself.
Are you conscious of preserving a certain image of African women in your writing
How much, if any, of your work is published locally and how much elsewhere? – and why?
In terms of books, most are published in South Africa, with 7 soon to be 8 books published locally, I have two books published off the continent, 1 in USA, 1 in UK. The market is small here and no one is working to try to improve that.
Do the local bookshops stock your books? /Where or how are your books distributed?
I’ve seen a few of the titles (2) at Exclusive and my romances are at CNA. Distribution is handled by the publisher.
Have you travelled/lived outside Botswana and do you think a writer must remove themselves from a particular space in order to either write well about home or create a sense of universality
Yes, and no, there are many fabulous writers who prove this.
Do you write from experience/real life
Sometimes and other times not. If it is from a personal experience, I always take a bit and let my imagination take over after that.
Does the writer have a duty to bear witness to the times (and space) they live in
No. A writer’s only obligation is to tell a good story. Any prescriptions tend to hamper that.
Do you think women writers can help resolve some of the debates or issues concerning our development
Individually, yes. Together, doubtful.
Are you a member of any local writers group or association and has this helped you in any way
I was a member of WABO and it helped me only in that I met other writers.
Do you have a particular audience in mind when you write – who?
Yes, it depends on the project
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced as writer
Trying to make enough money so I don’t have to work another job.
What if anything in your background has enabled/encouraged you to become a writer
I think English as a first language is an advantage since there are more markets for English writing. And I’ve always read a lot.
*An introduction to this series of interviews is here.