When Deji Olukotun combined his two careers of law and literature, he came up with a crime thriller that is out of this world.
The Park Slope resident, now a writing fellow at the PEN American Center, was working as a refugee attorney in Cape Town, South Africa, when inspiration for his new novel, “Nigerians in Space,” struck.
Sammi Lim: The book features a very colorful set of characters including an abalone smuggler. Is this based off a real black market in South Africa?
Deji Olukotun: Yeah! It’s a huge black market. I was researching crimes against refugees and came across this paper about abalone smuggling near Cape Town. It was so detailed and so rich. If you’re living in a little fishing village, it’s really hard to make a living. But if you get your hands on abalone, you can sell it for a lot of money … People also raise abalone in farms like with salmon farming. What I wanted to explore is, “What if you were really good at your job in one of these farms and you got fired? And you knew that a hundred yards away, you could walk into the water and make a lot of money?”
Read the full interview here.