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Children & Teen Author | Nnedi Okorafor
Nnedi Okorafor | photo by Jason Marck/WBEZ
Nnedimma Nkemdili "Nnedi" Okorafor was born in Ohio, though she frequently visited her parents’ home country of Nigeria. She had a decorated tennis career ahead of her when a spinal surgery went wrong, paralyzing her from the waist down. Through extensive physical therapy, she regained much of her mobility. She experimented with creative writing, eventually earning a master's degree in journalism from Michigan State and a master's degree and PhD in English from the University of Illinois. Her body of work includes short stories, comics, and books for a variety of ages.
She wrote the books The Shadow Speaker, Zahrah the Windseeker, and Akata Witch while pursuing her master’s and doctoral degrees in literature. She has said about that time period, “I am in love with university libraries and libraries as a whole. I started reading in the library, so libraries are very important. It’s not just that they’re important to me, they’re magical places to me, you know. They’re places of energy. They’re places of discovery. They’re places of adventure to me. So that’s how they’ve always been.” On the topic of futurism in science fiction, particularly her use of African settings, she said, “Why not? Every part of the world, people should be imagining what the future there should be like. That’s necessary.”
“I started reading in the library, so libraries are very important. It’s not just that they’re important to me, they’re magical places to me, you know. They’re places of energy. They’re places of discovery. They’re places of adventure to me."
— Nnedi Okorafor
2001 Hurston-Wright Award, winner, Amphibious Green (short story)
2007 – 2008 Macmillan Writers' Prize for Africa, winner, Long Juju Man
2008 Carl Brandon Parallax Award, winner, The Shadow Speaker
2008 The Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature, winner, Zahrah the Windseeker
2011 World Fantasy Award, winner, Who Fears Death
2012 Black Excellence Award for Outstanding Achievement in Literature, winner, Zahrah the Windseeker
2012 Kindred Award, winner, Who Fears Death
2016 Children's Africana Book Award for Best Book for Young Readers, winner, Chicken in the Kitchen
2016 Nebula Award and Hugo Award, winner, Binti
2018 Locus Award, Lodestar Award, winner, Akata Warrior
2020 Eisner Award, winner, LaGuardia
TED Talk: Sci-Fi Stories that Imagine a Future Africa | 2017
University of California Writer’s Symposium by the Sea | 2019