What this demonstrates, I think, is how impressionable and vulnerable we are in the face of a story, particularly as children.
Because all I had read were books in which characters were foreign,
I had become convinced that books by their very nature had to have foreigners in them
and had to be about things with which I could not personally identify.
Now, things changed when I discovered African books.
There weren't many of them available, and they weren't quite as easy to find as the foreign books.
But because of writers like Chinua Achebe and Camara Laye, I went through a mental shift in my perception of literature.
不过因为Chinua Achebe和Camara Laye之类的作家，我思维中对于文学的概念产生了质的改变。
I realized that people like me, girls with skin the color of chocolate,
whose kinky hair could not form ponytails, could also exist in literature.
I started to write about things I recognized.
Now, I loved those American and British books I read.
They stirred my imagination. They opened up new worlds for me.
But the unintended consequence was that I did not know that people like me could exist in literature.
So what the discovery of African writers did for me was this: It saved me from having a single story of what books are.
I come from a conventional, middle-class Nigerian family.
My father was a professor. My mother was an administrator.
And so we had, as was the norm, live-in domestic help, who would often come from nearby rural villages.
So, the year I turned eight, we got a new house boy. His name was Fide.
The only thing my mother told us about him was that his family was very poor.
My mother sent yams and rice, and our old clothes, to his family.
And when I didn't finish my dinner, my mother would say, "Finish your food! Don't you know? People like Fide's family have nothing."
So I felt enormous pity for Fide's family.