Julie Iromuanya is the author of the novel Mr. and Mrs. Doctor. From her Q & A with Deborah Kalb:
Q: How did you come up with the idea for this novel, and for your characters Job and Ifi?--Marshal Zeringue
A: When I was growing up, I rarely saw stories about African immigrants set in America; yet this was my story. As Toni Morrison says, if the book doesn’t exist, then you must write it.
Job came to me as I began to mine my own stories. In his earliest form he was essentially a composite of different kinds of bachelor friends my family has known over the years.
I drew up a ridiculous character sketch about a man who is simultaneously attracted to and repulsed by everything America has to offer. In the middle of all of this confusion is an aristocratic family back home that has invested every one of their hopes and dreams in his success in America.
In many ways, Ifi serves as Job’s counterpart—or better still, his counterpoint. Like him, she becomes heavily invested in keeping up appearances. But because of her poverty and circumstances, marriage is her path to upward mobility, and her aunt and uncle have paved that path.
As a result, she feels a sense of duty like Job does. But also, importantly, Job is initially the face of her American Dream. By the end...[read on]