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PHOTO ESSAY

African American Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers

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Nnedi Okorafor

Nnedi Okorafor, 2010. Courtesy of vanderfrog/www.flickr.com.

Nnedi Okorafor (b. 1974) was born in the United States to Nigerian parents. She grew up in the suburbs of Chicago, Illinois, and teaches writing at Chicago State University. Okorafor began writing her own fiction while in college and published her first book-length work, the young adult novel Zahrah the Windseeker, in 2005. This title, which won the Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature, blends elements of science fiction, fantasy, mythology, and Okorafor's Igbo heritage to tell the story of a teenage girl who embraces the frightening special powers that she possesses in order to save a friend.

Okorafor has also written novels for adults, the best known of which is Who Fears Death (2010), a post-apocalyptic sci-fi/fantasy novel that takes place in a future Africa, but which is also anchored in present-day African turmoil. Touching on the horrors of genocide, rape, and FGM, Who Fears Death is indicative of Okorafor's desire to address difficult ideas in a bold, aggressive manner. As she has stated, "If it scares you to write it, then you should definitely write it...Who Fears Death is full of moments and situations that I wanted to pull back from or skip over....But I knew that if I was feeling that way then that's where the good stuff was, so I faced it." (http://clarkesworldmagazine.com/okorafor_interview/)

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