Toni Morrison once said, “If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” It seems that Nnedi Okorafor’s stories of science fiction, fantasy, and magical realism embody that sentiment. Okorafor, a Nigerian-American, was displeased with the lack of African people in science fiction books and movies, so she started creating her own characters who inhabited distant African worlds with lush landscapes that supplied various types of flora technology. Her books are well reviewed and have won many awards. Those are wonderful achievements considering that Okorafor did not aspire to be a writer early on. She was fascinated by insects and other living creatures and wanted to study entomology. She also excelled in tennis and track and field but was unable to pursue competitive sports due to scoliosis. A spinal surgery procedure—while in college—left her temporarily paralyzed. Okorafor expressed that “the only way I could stay sane was to start writing little stories.” She has been writing ever since. Okorafor writes for children and adults and teaches creative writing and literature at the University of Buffalo. Some of her stories are available online. She is currently working on the second book in the young adult series Akata Witch.
The science-fiction novels I read and films I saw, well, I never saw reflections of myself in those stories. Thus, though I enjoyed them, I enjoyed them more as an outsider than someone who was part of those worlds.
Sources & Additional Reading
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