'It is a book that you don’t let down until you finish': An Interview with Melatu Uche Okorie and Evangelia Rigaki - Journal of Music

Thursday, 19 September, 2019
Melatu And Evangelia

Next week, Irish National Opera will present a new work based on the short story collection 'This Hostel Life' by Melatu Uchenna Okorie, exploring her experiences in the direct provision system in Ireland. The Journal of Music spoke to the author and the composer Evangelia Rigaki.


‘… this hostel has changed drastically in recent times and everyone has turned a blind eye to it. … direct provision is like being in an abusive relationship. Abuse itself is homogenous, no matter what race, class, or in this case, the hostel of the abused.’ This is how Melatu Uche Okorie begins her collection This Hostel Life, published last year by Skein Press in Galway. It’s a slim book, with just three stories, but it’s a shocking read.

When Irish National Opera set up the INO Studio last year to develop new operatic talent (singers, composers, directors and more), composer Evangelia Rigaki applied and was invited to work on a new project. She began looking for a text to set and Fergus Sheil of INO suggested Okorie’s book. The three stories, ‘This Hostel Life’, ‘Under the Awning’ and ‘The Egg Broke’ explore life in direct provision, the importance of storytelling, and the horrors that asylum seekers are seeking to escape from in their native countries.

‘I was astonished and I read it one go,’ Rigaki told the Journal of Music. ‘It is a book that you don’t let down until you finish. It felt very sincere and honest … I could not believe that these things were happening, especially not in such a civilised country like Ireland.’

Continue reading via the Journal of Music here