Welcome to our Profile Section! Here you can learn all about your favorite personalities, scholars, authors, poets, artists and more. We feature backgrounds and their work. If there is an author or artist that you would like to see profiled, please e-mail us and let us know. Though we can’t guarantee a profile for every recommendation, your input helps tremendously!
Noo Saro-Wiwa is a travel writer and daughter of the late Nigerian writer and political activist, Ken Saro-Wiwa. Noo attended King’s College London and Columbia University, New York, and has written for travel publications like Lonely Planet. Her first book, Looking for Transwonderland – which chronicles her travel in Nigeria after a life spent outside its shores – was published by Granta earlier this year and has amassed brilliant reviews. Demonstrating the humour and ease of expression that set her work apart, Noo tells us about spying on fellow bus passengers’ text messages, her fascination with the social etiquette of ancient hominids, and about Transwonderland being chosen as Book of The Week by BBC Radio 4.
Helon Habila is the author of ‘Oil on Water’, ‘Measuring Time’, and ‘Waiting for an Angel’. His books have won him both The Common Wealth Writers’ Prize and the Caine Prize for African Writing. A professor at George Mason University’s Graduate Creative Writing Programme, Habila talks, here, about being wary of strangers bearing anecdotes, bad poetry, and the return of Lomba and of Christ…
Lauri Kubuitsile is a full time, award-winning writer living in Botswana. She writes for children, teens and adults and has numerous published books. She’s twice won the Golden Baobab Award for stories for children and was shortlisted in 2011 for The Caine Prize. Most recently, her YA novel, Signed, Hopelessly in Love (Tafelberg 2011) was shortlisted for the MER Prize for Best Youth Novel.
Chinelo Okparanta was born in Port Harcourt, Nigeria. She holds an MFA in Fiction from Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Her short story, “America”, is featured in this quarter’s edition of Granta Magazine – Exit Strategies. She tells us, here, about her aversion to public speaking, the possible buttock-enhancing effects of a writing career, and her unwillingness to be influenced by Chimamanda Adichie.
Alisa Ahlam is a Somali author and journalist who writes under a pen name. The Arab Season, her debut novel, reflects the plight of the daughters of muslim immigrants who are charged with the responsibility of upholding family honour while being raised in the more permissive environment of the UK, and all the things that can go wrong by being neither here nor there. As a journalist Alisa has written for the Guardian newspaper and Al Jazeera, she has also worked as a fashion and lifestyle magazine editor in London. Here she gives her opinion on Ayaan Hirsi, the wisdom of taking Hemingway to dinner, and on her book being dubbed “Muslim style Sex and the City”.
Nigeria’s Rotimi Babatunde has won the 2012 Caine Prize for African Writing, described as Africa’s leading literary award, for his short story entitled ‘Bombay’s Republic’. Rotimi Babatunde’s fiction and poems have been published in Africa, Europe and America in journals which include Die Aussenseite des Elementes and Fiction on the Web and in anthologies including Little Drops and A Volcano of Voices. He is a winner of the Meridian Tragic Love Story Competition organised by the BBC World Service and his plays have been staged and presented by institutions which include the Halcyon Theatre, Chicago and the Institute for Contemporary Arts. He is currently taking part in a collaboratively produced piece at the Royal Court and the Young Vic as part of World Stages for a World City. Rotimi lives in Ibadan, Nigeria.
David Dedi is an Afro Canadian / South Sudanese poet and writer. He graduated with a BA in Anthropology and History from the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada. And has since published various works including Borrowing Fire: An anthology of poetry and short stories. He continues to wow many with his delightful poetry and writing.
Novelist, poet, and literary scholar, Mukoma Wa Ngugi is the author of Nairobi Heat (Penguin, SA 2009, Melville House Publishing, 2011), an anthology of poetry titled Hurling Words at Consciousness(AWP, 2006) and is a political columnist for the BBC Focus on Africa Magazine. He was shortlisted for the Caine Prize for African Writing in 2009. In 2010, he was shortlisted for the Penguin Prize for African Writing for his novel manuscript, The First and Second Books of Transition.
Lee Mwiti is a journalist from East Africa.
Binyavanga Wainaina is the founding editor of the literary magazine Kwani? and won the Caine Prize for African Writing in 2002. He has written for the New York Times, the Guardian and National Geographic. He is the director of the Chinua Achebe Center for African Writers and Artists at Bard College.
NoViolet Bulawayo (pen name of Elizabeth Tshele) is a Zimbabwean author, and Stegner Fellow at Stanford University (2012–2014). She completed her college education in the US, earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees in English from Texas A&M University Commerce and Southern Methodist University respectively. In 2010, she completed a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing at Cornell University, where her work was recognized with a Truman Capote Fellowship. Bulawayo won the 2011 Caine Prize for African Writing for her short story “Hitting Budapest” about a gang of street children in a Zimbabwean shantytown.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie was born in Nigeria in 1977. She is the author of the novels Purple Hibiscus(2003) and Half of a Yellow Sun (2006), and of the short story collection The Thing around Your Neck (2009). She has received numerous awards and distinctions, including the Orange Broadband Prize for Fiction (2007) and a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship (2008).