Fiction writer Chinelo Okparanta to read at UO

May 11, 2017
8:00 pmto9:00 pm

Browsing Room
Knight Library
1501 Kincaid St.
UO campus

2016 – 2017 Reading Series: UO Creative Writing Program

Chinelo Okparanta was born in Port Harcourt, Nigeria. A University of Iowa Provost’s Postgraduate Visiting Writer in Fiction as well as a Colgate University Olive B. O’Connor Fellow in Fiction, Okparanta received her BS from Pennsylvania State University, her MA from Rutgers University, and her MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop.

She was one of Granta’s six New Voices for 2012 and is a Lambda Award winner for Lesbian Fiction, an O. Henry Short Story Prize winner, a finalist for the Rolex Mentors and Proteges Arts Initiative, a finalist for the Etisalat Prize for Literature, and a finalist for the Caine Prize, among others. Her stories have appeared in The New Yorker, Granta, Tin House, The Kenyon Review, and elsewhere.

She is a winner of a 2014 Lambda Literary Award, a 2016 Lambda Literary Award, the 2016 Jessie Redmon Fauset Book Award in Fiction, and of a 2014 O. Henry Prize. Other honors include a nomination for the 2016 Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Legacy Award and the 2016 NAACP Image Award in Fiction. Her debut short story collection, Happiness, Like Water, was cited as an editors’ choice in the New York Times Book Review and was named on the list of The Guardian’s Best African Fiction of 2013.

Under the Udala Trees (2015) is her first novel.

From the jacket: “Ijeoma comes of age as her nation does. Born before independence, she is eleven when civil war breaks out in the young republic of Nigeria. Sent away to safety, she meets another displaced child and they, star-crossed, fall in love. They are from different ethnic communities. They are also both girls. But when their love is discovered, Ijeoma learns that she will have to hide this part of herself—and there is a cost to living inside a lie. 

“Inspired by Nigeria’s folktales and its war, Chinelo Okparanta shows us, in ‘graceful and precise’ prose (New York Times Book Review), how the struggles and divisions of a nation are inscribed on the souls of its citizens. ‘Powerful and heartbreaking, Under the Udala Trees is a deeply moving commentary on identity, prejudice, and forbidden love’ (BuzzFeed).”

This reading is immediately preceded by the announcement and certificate presentation to winners of the 2017 Walter and Nancy Kidd Memorial Writing Contest in Poetry and Fiction.