Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book


Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Nnedi Okorafor  

Pen Name: Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu

Genre: Fiction

Born:

Sites:


Illinois Connection

Okorafor graduated from Homewood-Flossmoor High School and from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1996 with her Bachelor's degree. She went on to receive her Masters in English from the University of Illinois, Chicago and in 2007, received a Ph. D. in English from there as well. She was a professor of creative writing at Chicago State University from 2008 through 2014.

Biographical and Professional Information

Nnedi Okorafor is a Nigerian-American novelist of African-based science fiction, fantasy and magical realism for both children and adults. She is known for weaving African culture into creative evocative settings and memorable characters. Formerly known by her married name of: Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu, she no longer goes by that name even though some of her earlier works are written under it.Nnedi holds a PhD in literature/creative writing and has been a full professor at the University at Buffalo, New York (SUNY) since 2014. She currently splits her time between Buffalo, New York and Olympia Fields, Illinois. In 2017, Okorafor's book ''Who Fears Death'', has been optioned by HBO & is now in early development as a TV series with ''Game of Thrones'' author, George RR Martin as executive producer.


Published Works Expand for more information


Titles At Your Library

Zahrah the Windseeker
ISBN: 0547020287

HMH Books for Young Readers. 2008

In the Ooni Kingdom, children born dada—with vines growing in their hair—are rumored to have special powers. Zahrah Tsami doesn’t know anything about that. She feels normal. Others think she’s different—they fear her. Only Dari, her best friend, isn’t afraid of her. But then something begins to happen—something that definitely marks Zahrah as different—and the only person she can tell is Dari. He pushes her to investigate, edging them both closer and closer to danger. Until Dari’s life is on the line. Only Zahrah can save him, but to do so she’ll have to face her worst fears alone, including the very thing that makes her different.

The Shadow Speaker
ISBN: 1423100336

Hyperion Book CH. 2007

Driven by vengeance. Destined for

peace.

Niger, West Africa, 2070:

After fifteen-year old Ejii witnesses her father's beheading, her world shatters. In an era of mind-blowing technology and seductive magic, Ejii embarks on a

mystical journey to track down her father's killer. With a newfound friend by her side,

Ejii comes face to face with an earth turned inside out—and with her own magical powers.

But Ejii soon discovers that her travels across the sands of the Sahara have a greater purpose. Her people need to be protected from a force seeking to annihilate them. And Ejii may be just the hero to do it.

This futuristic, fantastical adventure heralds

a bright new talent on the YA fantasy scene.

Long Juju Man
ISBN: 0230722075

Macmillan Education. 2009

Without A Map
ISBN: 1933500417

Aqueduct Press. 2010

Without a Map is published in conjunction with the appearance of Mary Anne Mohanraj and Nnedi Okorafor as the Guests of Honor at WisCon 34. The volume opens with an excerpt from ''Stormbringer,'' Okorafor's sequel to The Shadow Speaker, in which Dikéogu, a ''meta-human'' runaway slave with the power to create storms, meets Tumaki, the daughter of a wealthy Muslim family. The two fall in love and hang out in Tumaki's secret basement library, reading and making love. In the meantime, people are disappearing from Timia: ''It was a slow disease in Timia. I might have left that city if it weren't for Tumaki. Hiding away in her library, I didn't realize how bad it was getting. Not until the day she came running down the winding staircase, shaking, eyes wide and wet…''

Mary Anne Mohanraj contributes a mix of emotionally rich and intimate stories, poems, and essays to the volume. In ''Identity Papers,'' ''Revised Itineraries,'' and ''Saying Hello,'' Mohanraj, who was born in Sri Lanka but has lived in the United States since the age of two, recounts and reflects on a recent trip to Sri Lanka, where she wonders if she could ever feel at home. ''Sequins'' explores the complications bisexuality bring to an apparently traditional marriage, while in the space opera tale ''Jump Space,'' Sarita tests her polyamorous marriage when she independently makes a commitment that could affect the future of her entire family. Without a Map concludes with Mohanraj's discussion of racism and how to write characters of color well.

Who Fears Death
ISBN: 0756406692

DAW. 2011

Now optioned as a TV series for HBO, with executive producer George R. R. Martin!

An award-winning literary author enters the world of magical realism with her World Fantasy Award-winning novel of a remarkable woman in post-apocalyptic Africa.



In a post-apocalyptic Africa, the world has changed in many ways

yet in one region genocide between tribes still bloodies the land. A woman who has survived the annihilation of her village and a terrible rape by an enemy general wanders into the desert, hoping to die. Instead, she gives birth to an angry baby girl with hair and skin the color of sand. Gripped by the certainty that her daughter is different—special—she names her Onyesonwu, which means "Who fears death?" in an ancient language.

It doesn't take long for Onye to understand that she is physically and socially marked by the circumstances of her conception. She is Ewu—a child of rape who is expected to live a life of violence, a half-breed rejected by her community. But Onye is not the average Ewu. Even as a child, she manifests the beginnings of a remarkable and unique magic. As she grows, so do her abilities, and during an inadvertent visit to the spirit realm, she learns something terrifying: someone powerful is trying to kill her.

Desperate to elude her would-be murderer and to understand her own nature, she embarks on a journey in which she grapples with nature, tradition, history, true love, and the spiritual mysteries of her culture, and ultimately learns why she was given the name she bears: Who Fears Death.

Kabu Kabu
ISBN: 160701405X

Prime Books. 2013

Kabu kabu—unregistered illegal Nigerian taxis—generally get you where you need to go. Nnedi Okorafor’s Kabu Kabu, however, takes the reader to exciting, fantastic, magical, occasionally dangerous, and always imaginative locations you didn’t know you needed. This debut short story collection by an award-winning author includes notable previously published material, a new novella co-written with New York Times-bestselling author Alan Dean Foster, six additional original stories, and a brief foreword by Whoopi Goldberg.

The Book of Phoenix
ISBN: 0756410193

DAW. 2015

A fiery spirit dances from the pages of the Great Book. She brings the aroma of scorched sand and ozone. She has a story to tell....

The Book of Phoenix is a unique work of magical futurism. A prequel to the highly acclaimed, World Fantasy Award-winning novel, Who Fears Death, it features the rise of another of Nnedi Okorafor’s powerful, memorable, superhuman women.

Phoenix was grown and raised among other genetic experiments in New York’s Tower 7. She is an “accelerated woman”—only two years old but with the body and mind of an adult, Phoenix’s abilities far exceed those of a normal human. Still innocent and inexperienced in the ways of the world, she is content living in her room speed reading e-books, running on her treadmill, and basking in the love of Saeed, another biologically altered human of Tower 7.

Then one evening, Saeed witnesses something so terrible that he takes his own life. Devastated by his death and Tower 7’s refusal to answer her questions, Phoenix finally begins to realize that her home is really her prison, and she becomes desperate to escape.

But Phoenix’s escape, and her destruction of Tower 7, is just the beginning of her story. Before her story ends, Phoenix will travel from the United States to Africa and back, changing the entire course of humanity’s future.

Chicken in the Kitchen
ISBN: 0993225306

Lantana Publishing. 2015

Chicken in the Kitchen

Lagoon
ISBN: 1481440888

Saga Press. 2016

It’s up to a famous rapper, a biologist, and a rogue soldier to handle humanity’s first contact with an alien ambassador—and prevent mass extinction—in this novel that blends magical realism with high-stakes action.

After word gets out on the Internet that aliens have landed in the waters outside of the world’s fifth most populous city, chaos ensues. Soon the military, religious leaders, thieves, and crackpots are trying to control the message on YouTube and on the streets. Meanwhile, the earth’s political superpowers are considering a preemptive nuclear launch to eradicate the intruders. All that stands between seventeen million anarchic residents and death is an alien ambassador, a biologist, a rapper, a soldier, and a myth that may be the size of a giant spider, or a god revealed.

The Book of Phoenix
ISBN: 0756410789

DAW. 2016

A fiery spirit dances from the pages of the Great Book. She brings the aroma of scorched sand and ozone. She has a story to tell....

The Book of Phoenix is a unique work of magical futurism. A prequel to the highly acclaimed, World Fantasy Award-winning novel, Who Fears Death, it features the rise of another of Nnedi Okorafor’s powerful, memorable, superhuman women.

Phoenix was grown and raised among other genetic experiments in New York’s Tower 7. She is an “accelerated woman”—only two years old but with the body and mind of an adult, Phoenix’s abilities far exceed those of a normal human. Still innocent and inexperienced in the ways of the world, she is content living in her room speed reading e-books, running on her treadmill, and basking in the love of Saeed, another biologically altered human of Tower 7.

Then one evening, Saeed witnesses something so terrible that he takes his own life. Devastated by his death and Tower 7’s refusal to answer her questions, Phoenix finally begins to realize that her home is really her prison, and she becomes desperate to escape.

But Phoenix’s escape, and her destruction of Tower 7, is just the beginning of her story. Before her story ends, Phoenix will travel from the United States to Africa and back, changing the entire course of humanity’s future.

Akata Witch
ISBN: 0670011967

Viking Books for Young Readers. 2011

Affectionately dubbed "the Nigerian Harry Potter," Akata Witch

weaves together a heart-pounding tale of magic, mystery, and finding one's place in the world.

Twelve-year-old Sunny lives in Nigeria, but she was born American. Her features are African, but she's albino. She's a terrific athlete, but can't go out into the sun to play soccer. There seems to be no place where she fits in. And then she discovers something amazing—she is a "free agent" with latent magical power. Soon she's part of a quartet of magic students, studying the visible and invisible, learning to change reality. But will it be enough to help them when they are asked to catch a career criminal who knows magic too?

Ursula K. Le Guin and John Green are Nnedi Okorafor fans. As soon as you start reading Akata Witch, you will be, too!

Akata Warrior
ISBN: 067078561X

Viking Books for Young Readers. 2017

The long-awaited sequel to the genre-breaking

Akata Witch

by multiple award-winner Nnedi Okorafor!

“The most imaginative, gripping, enchanting fantasy novels I have ever read!”

—Laurie Halse Anderson, New York Times

bestselling author of

Speak

A year ago, Sunny Nwazue, an American-born girl Nigerian girl, was inducted into the secret Leopard Society. As she began to develop her magical powers, Sunny learned that she had been chosen to lead a dangerous mission to avert an apocalypse, brought about by the terrifying masquerade, Ekwensu. Now, stronger, feistier, and a bit older, Sunny is studying with her mentor Sugar Cream and struggling to unlock the secrets in her strange Nsibidi book.

Eventually, Sunny knows she must confront her destiny. With the support of her Leopard Society friends, Orlu, Chichi, and Sasha, and of her spirit face, Anyanwu, she will travel through worlds both visible and invisible to the mysteries town of Osisi, where she will fight a climactic battle to save humanity.

Much-honored Nnedi Okorafor, winner of the Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy awards, merges today’s Nigeria with a unique world she creates.

Akata Warrior blends mythology, fantasy, history and magic into a compelling tale that will keep readers spellbound.

Binti
ISBN: 0765385252

Tor.com. 2015

"Prepare to fall in love with Binti." ―Neil Gaiman

Winner of the Hugo Award and the Nebula Award for Best Novella!

Her name is Binti, and she is the first of the Himba people ever to be offered a place at Oomza University, the finest institution of higher learning in the galaxy. But to accept the offer will mean giving up her place in her family to travel between the stars among strangers who do not share her ways or respect her customs.

Knowledge comes at a cost, one that Binti is willing to pay, but her journey will not be easy. The world she seeks to enter has long warred with the Meduse, an alien race that has become the stuff of nightmares. Oomza University has wronged the Meduse, and Binti's stellar travel will bring her within their deadly reach.

If Binti hopes to survive the legacy of a war not of her making, she will need both the the gifts of her people and the wisdom enshrined within the University, itself ― but first she has to make it there, alive.

The Binti Series
Book 1: Binti
Book 2: Binti: Home
Book 3: Binti: The Night Masquerade

PRAISE FOR BINTI

"Binti is a supreme read about a sexy, edgy Afropolitan in space! It's a wondrous combination of extra-terrestrial adventure and age-old African diplomacy. Unforgettable!" ― Wanuri Kahiu, award-winning Kenyan film director of Punzi and From a Whisper

Binti: Home
ISBN: 0765393115

Tor.com. 2017

The thrilling sequel to the Hugo and Nebula-winning Binti by Nnedi Okorafor, and a finalist for the 2018 Hugo and Nommo Awards

It’s been a year since Binti and Okwu enrolled at Oomza University. A year since Binti was declared a hero for uniting two warring planets. A year since she found friendship in the unlikeliest of places.

And now she must return home to her people, with her friend Okwu by her side, to face her family and face her elders.

But Okwu will be the first of his race to set foot on Earth in over a hundred years, and the first ever to come in peace.

After generations of conflict can human and Meduse ever learn to truly live in harmony?

The Binti Series
Book 1: Binti
Book 2: Binti: Home
Book 3: Binti: The Night Masquerade

Praise for Nnedi Okorafor:

"Binti is a supreme read about a sexy, edgy Afropolitan in space! It's a wondrous combination of extra-terrestrial adventure and age-old African diplomacy. Unforgettable!" - Wanuri Kahiu, award winning Kenyan film director of Pumzi and From a Whisper

"A perfect dove-tailing of tribal and futuristic, of sentient space ships and ancient cultural traditions, Binti was a beautiful story to read.” – Little Red Reviewer


Binti is a wonderful and memorable coming of age story which, to paraphrase Lord of the Rings, shows that one girl can change the course of the galaxy.” – Geek Syndicate


Binti packs a punch because it is such a rich, complex tale of identity, both personal and cultural… and like all of Nnedi Okorafor’s works, this one is also highly, highly recommended.” – Kirkus Reviews


"There's more vivid imagination in a page of Nnedi Okorafor's work than in whole volumes of ordinary fantasy epics." -Ursula Le Guin


"Okorafor's impressive inventiveness never flags." - Gary K. Wolfe on Lagoon

Binti: The Night Masquerade
ISBN: 0765393131

Tor.com. 2018

The concluding part of the highly-acclaimed science fiction trilogy that began with Nnedi Okorafor's Hugo- and Nebula Award-winning BINTI.

Binti has returned to her home planet, believing that the violence of the Meduse has been left behind. Unfortunately, although her people are peaceful on the whole, the same cannot be said for the Khoush, who fan the flames of their ancient rivalry with the Meduse.

Far from her village when the conflicts start, Binti hurries home, but anger and resentment has already claimed the lives of many close to her.

Once again it is up to Binti, and her intriguing new friend Mwinyi, to intervene--though the elders of her people do not entirely trust her motives--and try to prevent a war that could wipe out her people, once and for all.

Don't miss this essential concluding volume in the Binti trilogy.

The Binti Series
Book 1: Binti
Book 2: Binti: Home
Book 3: Binti: The Night Masquerade


Awards

-- '''''Zahara the Windseeker''''' -- *Wole Soyinka Prize for African Literature, 2008

-- *Finalist, Garden State Teen Choice Award, 2008

-- *Finalist, Parallax Award, 2005

-- *Finalist, Kindred Award, 2005

-- *Finalist, Golden Duck Award, 2005

-- *Finalist, The Locus Award for Best First Novel

-- *Black Excellence Award for Outstanding Achievement in Literature in Fiction, 2012

-- '''''The Shadow Speaker''''' -- *Finalist, Andre Norton Award

-- *Finalist, Essence Magazine Literary Award, 2008

-- *Honor Book, Tiptree

-- *Finalist, Golden Duck Award

-- *Winter Booksense Pick, 2007/2008

-- *CCBC Choice, 2008

-- *Locus Magazine Recommended Book

-- *Parallax Award

-- *Amelia Bloomer Project Book

-- '''''Long JuJu Man''''' -- *Writers' Prize for Africa, Macmillan

-- '''''Who Fears Death''''' -- *World Fantasy Award for Best Fantasy Novel, 2011

-- *Carl Brandon Kindred Award, 2010

-- *RT Reviewer’s Choice Best Book Award (Science Fiction), 2010

-- *Finalist, Locus Award for Best Fantasy Novel, 2010

-- *Tiptree Honor Book, 2011

-- *Finalist, Black Excellence Award , 2010

-- *Publishers Weekly Best Book, 2010

-- *Amazon.com Best Book, 2010

-- *Library School Journal Best Book, 2010

-- *Top Pick, RT Reviews

-- *Starred Review, Publishers Weekly

-- *Starred Review, Library Journal

-- '''The Akata Series''' -- *Finalist, Andre Norton Award for Best Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy

-- *Best Book of the Year, Amazon.com, 2011

-- *Best Book of the Year, YALSA, 2011

-- *Junior Library Guild Selection

-- *Starred review, Booklist

-- *Starred review, BCCB

-- *Starred review, School Library Journal

-- '''''Kabu Kabu''''' -- *Publisher's Weekly Best Book for Fall, 2013

-- *Finalist, Locus Award for Best Collection

-- '''''The Book of Phoenix''''' -- *Finalist, Arthur C. Clarke Award

-- *Finalist, Sputnik Award

-- *Finalist, Campbell Memorial Award

-- '''The Binti Series''' -- *Nebula Award for Best Novella

-- *Finalist, Hugo Award for Best Novella

-- *Finalist, British Science Fiction Association Award (Best Short)

-- *BooktubeSFF Award for Best Short Work (Popular Vote)

-- *Finalist, Locus Award (Best Novella)

-- '''''Chicken in the Kitchen''''' -- *Children’s Africana Book Award for Best Book for Young Readers, 2016

--

-- '''''Lagoon''''' -- *Finalist, British Science Fiction Association Award (Best Novel)

-- *Finalist, Red Tentacle Award (Best Novel)

-- *Finalist, SFX Award (Best Novel)

-- *Finalist, Tiptree Award

-- *ILLINOIS READS Book Selection, Illinois Reading Council, 2017

-- '''''The Book of Phoenix''''' -- *Finalist, Arthur C. Clarke Award

-- *Finalist, John W. Campbell Memorial Award

-- *Finalist, Sputnik Award