You probably recognise the name Nnedi Okoroafor from her well-known book – Who Fears Death.
Who Fears Death is a novel with science fiction and fantasy elements. The novel takes place in a fictionalized post-apocalyptic future version of Sudan, where the light-skinned Nuru oppress the dark-skinned Okeke..
In such a short while, the novel has received so much recognition. It was awarded the 2011 World Fantasy Award for Best Novel as well as the 2010 Carl Brandon Kindred Award. Nnedi has since gone on to write other books like Akata Witch (2011), Zahrah the Windseeker (2005) etc
In a recent interview with Prisca Sam-Duru for Vanguard , she talks about her work and inspiration, below are some things you probably didn’t know about her:
- She has a Masters in Journalism and a Ph.D in literature and one of her dissertations was on African literature. PhD holder in English from University of Illinois, Chicago and Professor of Creative Writing at Chicago State University. She is an associate professor of creative writing and literature at the New york State University
- One of her favorite authors is Ben Okri. She loves The Famished Road, it transformed her as a writer.
She also loves The Palmwine Drinkered by Amos Tutola and Wole Soyinka’s The Man Died.
- She believes that Nigerian writing do not always have to be about issues troubling the society or be politicized, the can also be pure entertainment.
- When it comes to genres, she is an all-rounder. She doesn’t really pay attention to the categories.
- She has received some hate mails, they called her a witch, but that it only spurs her to do more.
- Being a writer has taken her around the world. She has been middle East, parts of Europe, South America, Carribean so many places and its all paid for!
She also spoke on her inspiration:
Everything! By being here at Ake Festival am inspired. My parents are unique in many ways. After the Biafran war, they only stayed in the United States because of the war, they couldn’t come back. My father is a Cardiovascular Surgeon, my mother is very educated, she is a registered nurse/Midwife. They came to US for education and they prepared to get all that and come back here [Nigeria] and make a life for themselves but the Biafran war broke out and they ended up staying in America. They didn’t have that mentality of fleeing Nigeria. So as soon as the war was over, they took my siblings and I back to Nigeria just to reconnect everybody and we never stayed in posh hotels in Lagos, we went to the village. So from age 7 till now, that’s how its been for me. My connection with Nigeria is very close because a lot of my strongest memories both the good and the bad are real about this country. So when I started writing, my stories naturally flow from my memories about Nigeria. For instance, my title Who Fears Death, came from my cousin’s name Onyesonwu. As soon as I heard that name, I got the title of my book. My main character in the book is Onye s’Onwu so the book title is the main charater’s name. I listen to both the spirituality part of anything and those things blast in my brain, I do more research and people call me heathen and I say in all this, I’m just curious. I have also been inspired by Octavia Butler, Ngugi wa’ Thiongo and Hayao Miyazaki.
Read the full interview on Vanguard