Book Brahmin: Nnedi Okorafor

Nnedi Okorafor is a novelist of Nigerian descent known for weaving African culture into evocative settings and memorable characters. Her novels include Zahrah the Windseeker (winner of the Wole Soyinka Prize for African Literature), The Shadow Speaker (winner of the CBS Parallax Award) and Long Juju Man (winner of the Macmillan Writer's Prize for Africa). Her first adult novel, Who Fears Death (DAW, June 1, 2010), is a magical realist narrative that combines African literature and fantasy/science fiction into a story of genocide and of a woman who reshapes her world. Okorafor is a professor of creative writing at Chicago State University. Visit Okorafor at

On your nightstand now:

Wonder Woman: Mission's End (Infinite Crisis) by Greg Rucka; the four-volume set of Hayao Miyazaki's graphic novel Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind (which I love to read before going to bed--gives me good dreams); and a copy of Wole Soyinka's The Man Died (which he autographed for me when I met him in Nigeria).

Favorite book when you were a child:

Comet in Moominland
by Tove Jansson. It was my first introduction to the possibility of the world ending, and the main characters were bipedal, polite, hippo-like creatures. I loved it!

Your top five authors:

Octavia Butler, Buchi Emecheta, Stephen King, Wole Soyinka, Ngugi wa Thing'o. This is in alphabetical order, not order of significance. They are all equally significant to me in different ways.

Book you've faked reading:

Ulysses by James Joyce... *Shudder*

Book you're an evangelist for:

Wizard of the Crow
by Ngugi wa Thiong'o. It's dangerous to mix politics and sorcery; Ngugi does it with the skill of a literary juju man. Wizard of the Crow contains almost every essential element of superb storytelling.

Book you've bought for the cover:

A Girl Named Disaster by Nancy Farmer (the Orchard Classics Edition). The little girl on the cover looks like she carries a machete and isn't afraid to use it!
Book that changed your life:

Famished Road
by Ben Okri. This novel taught me that indeed my suspicions were correct: There is no real line between the spirit world and the physical world, and one can render this fact in prose. This book was also the first and only book to show masquerades (a Nigerian tradition of manifesting the ancestors and spirits) the way I have always imagined them.

Favorite line from a book:

"Spiders, the wind, a leaf, a tree, the moon, silence, a glance, a mysterious old man, an owl at midnight, a sign, a white stone on a branch a single yellow bird of omen, an inexplicable death, an unprompted laughter, an egg by the river, are all impregnated with stories."--Ben Okri, Birds of Heaven
Book you most want to read again for the first time:

I, Phoolan: The Autobiography of India's Bandit Queen
by Phoolan Devi. The sense of amazement, wonder, rage and horror that I felt when I first read this could have created its own alternate universe.

Book that made you cry, and then go write:

The Stoning of Soraya M. by Freidoune Sahebjam. I read this book last year. When I finished it, I sobbed terribly for an hour. I've never reacted that violently to a book before. It literally hurt to read it. When I got over my pain, I ran to my computer and poured out the result of that pain, fingertips to keyboard.

Book that cracks you up every time you read it:

Animal Treasures by Ivan T. Sanderson. I stumbled across this crusty old book from 1937 in the stacks of the Michigan State Library. It's the memoir of a Scottish naturalist exploring the Nigerian forests. His humorous descriptions of the creatures he encounters and his own difficulties are hilarious. I read it when I need to snicker.

Powered by: Xtenit