Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Nnedi Okorafor  

Pen Name: Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu

Genre: Fiction

Audience: Adult; Young Adult; Children;


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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.


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 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,, 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

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


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




Starred Review, School Library Journal

Starred Review, Shelf Awareness

La Guardia

Hugo Award, 2020

Speaking Engagements

Speaking Engagement Availability (Yes) To arrange a speaking engagement contact Dawn Stuart at Books in Common, 541-318-6288. Literary Agent [ Don Maass].

Selected Titles At Your Library

Akata warrior /
ISBN: 067078561X. OCLC Number: 973806811

. .

Now stronger, feistier, and a bit older, Sunny Nwazue, along with her friends from the the Leopard Society, travel through worlds, both visible and invisible, to the mysterious town of Osisi, where they fight in a climactic battle to save humanity.

Akata witch /
ISBN: 0670011967. OCLC Number: 468975295

Viking,. .

Twelve-year-old Sunny Nwazue, an American-born albino child of Nigerian parents, moves with her family back to Nigeria, where she learns that she has latent magical powers which she and three similarly gifted friends use to catch a serial killer.

Binti /
ISBN: 0765385252. OCLC Number: 913499839

. .

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 gifts of her people and the wisdom enshrined within the University, itself--but first she has to make it there, alive.

Black Panther.
ISBN: 1302905384. OCLC Number: 1012812332

. .

As the Black Panther and an Avenger, T'Challa has had to save the world time and again - but those duties pale in comparison to his responsibilities as king of Wakanda.

Broken places & outer spaces :
ISBN: 1501195476. OCLC Number: 1056733522

. .

"Nnedi Okorafor was never supposed to be paralyzed. A college track star and budding entomologist, Nnedi's lifelong battle with scoliosis was just a bump in her plan--something a simple operation would easily correct. But when Nnedi wakes from the surgery to find she can't move her legs, her entire sense of self begins to waver. Confined to a hospital bed for months, unusual things begin to happen. Psychedelic bugs crawl her hospital walls; strange dreams visit her nightly. Nnedi begins to put these experiences into writing, conjuring up strange, fantastical stories. What Nnedi discovers during her confinement would prove to be the key to her life as a successful science fiction author: In science fiction, when something breaks, something greater often emerges from the cracks. In Broken Places & Outer Spaces, Nnedi takes the reader on a journey from her hospital bed deep into her memories, from her painful first experiences with racism as a child in Chicago to her powerful visits to her parents' hometown in Nigeria. From Frida Kahlo to Mary Shelly, she examines great artists and writers who have pushed through their limitations, using hardship to fuel their work. Through these compelling stories and her own, Nnedi reveals a universal truth: What we perceive as limitations have the potential to become our greatest strengths--far greater than when we were unbroken. A guidebook for anyone eager to understand how their limitations might actually be used as a creative springboard, Broken Places & Outer Spaces is an inspiring look at how to open up new windows in your mind."--Provided by publisher.

Chicken in the kitchen /
ISBN: 0993225306. OCLC Number: 927986402

. .

"What would you do if you woke up one night to find the shadow of a giant chicken passing your bedroom door? Go and investigate of course! When Anyaugo follows a giant chicken into her kitchen one warm night in Nigeria, she embarks on a hilarious adventure where nothing is quite as it seems. Is the nature spirit that lives in the wooden walls of her house a help or a hindrance? Is the mischievous giant chicken a friend or a foe? Most importantly, will Anyaugo be able to save the food her aunties have cooked for the New Yam Festival the next day? World Fantasy Award-winning author Nnedi Okorafor provides us with a hugely entertaining look at the fascinating masquerade culture of West Africa, told from the perspective of a plucky young Nigerian girl who finds the courage to protect the traditions she loves"--Back cover.

Ikenga /
ISBN: 0593113527. OCLC Number: 1129031873

. .

In southeastern Nigeria, twelve-year-old Nnamdi is determined to avenge his police chief father, who was murdered while triyng to rid the town of criminals, but Nnamdi feels powerless until he receives a magical object which gives him superpowers.

Kabu kabu /
ISBN: 160701405X. OCLC Number: 841892404

. .

Presents a variety of takes on the future of Africa, including robots serving foreign interests find common cause with artists, women fall victim to society's order, and assassins ponder the effects of their efforts to provoke reform.

Lagoon /
ISBN: 1481440888. OCLC Number: 910980687

. .

"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 17 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"--

LaGuardia :
ISBN: 1506710751. OCLC Number: 1090278144

. .

"In an alternate world where aliens have integrated with society, pregnant Nigerian-American doctor Future Nwafor Chukwuebuka has just smuggled an illegal alien plant named Letme Live through LaGuardia International and Interstellar Airport ... and that's not the only thing she's hiding. She and Letme become part of a community of human and alien immigrants; but as their crusade for equality continues and the birth of her child nears, Future -- and her entire world -- begins to change."--

Long Juju Man /
ISBN: 0230722075. OCLC Number: 713231084

. .

ISBN: 0756416094. OCLC Number: 1245345534

. .

Remote control /
ISBN: 125077280X. OCLC Number: 1191457705

. .

"The day Fatima forgot her name, Death paid a visit. From here on in she would be known as Sankofa--a name that meant nothing to anyone but her, the only tie to her family and her past. Her touch is death, and with a glance a town can fall. And she walks--alone, except for her fox companion--searching for the object that came from the sky and gave itself to her when the meteors fell and when she was yet unchanged; searching for answers. But is there a greater purpose for Sankofa, now that Death is her constant companion?"--

ISBN: 1302915231. OCLC Number: 1047446276

. .

"The Black Panther has disappeared, lost on a mission in space. And in his absence, everyone's looking at the next in line for the throne. But Shuri is happiest in a lab, surrounded by gadgets of her own creation. She'd rather be testing gauntlets than throwing them. But a nation without a leader is a vulnerable one - and Shuri may have to choose between Wakanda's welfare and her own"--Provided by publisher.

The book of Phoenix /
ISBN: 0756410193. OCLC Number: 892041517

. .

"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"--

The shadow speaker /
ISBN: 1423100336. OCLC Number: 124156424

Jump at the Sun/Hyperion Books for Children,. .

In West Africa in 2070, after fifteen-year-old "shadow speaker" Ejii witnesses her father's beheading, she embarks on a dangerous journey across the Sahara to find Jaa, her father's killer, and upon finding her, she also discovers a greater purpose to her life and to the mystical powers she possesses.

Who fears death /
ISBN: 0756406692. OCLC Number: 462898816

. .

In a far future, post-nuclear-holocaust Africa, genocide plagues one region. The aggressors, the Nuru, have decided to follow the Great Book and exterminate the Okeke. But when the only surviving member of a slain Okeke village is brutally raped, she manages to escape, wandering farther into the desert. She gives birth to a baby girl with hair and skin the color of sand and instinctively knows that her daughter is different. She names her daughter Onyesonwu, which means "Who Fears Death?" in an ancient African tongue. Reared under the tutelage of a mysterious and traditional shaman, Onyesonwu discovers her magical destiny -- to end the genocide of her people. The journey to fulfill her destiny will force her to grapple with nature, tradition, history, true love, the spiritual mysteries of her culture -- and eventually death itself.

Without a map
ISBN: 9781933500416. OCLC Number: 895919163

. .

Consists of an excerpt from a novel by Nnedi Okorafor and a mix of stories, poems, and essays by Mary Anne Mohanraj.

Zahrah the Windseeker /
ISBN: 0547020287. OCLC Number: 56104248

Houghton Mifflin,. .

Zahrah, a timid thirteen-year-old girl, undertakes a dangerous quest into the Forbidden Greeny Jungle to seek the antidote for her best friend after he is bitten by a snake, and finds knowledge, courage, and hidden powers along the way.