Oonya Kempadoo

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Oonya Kempadoo (born 1966) is a novelist who was born in the United Kingdom of Guyanese parentage, her father being the writer Peter Kempadoo.[1]


Born in Sussex, England, "of mixed Indian, African, Scottish, and Amerindian descent", Oonya Kempadoo was brought up in Guyana from the age of five.[2] She has studied art in Amsterdam, and has also lived in Trinidad, St. Lucia, and Tobago.[3] She now lives in St. George's, Grenada.[4][5]

Kempadoo began writing seriously in 1997[3] and her first novel, Buxton Spice, a semi-autobiographical rural coming-of-age story,[2] was published 1998. The New York Times described it as "superb, and superbly written".[6] Her second book, Tide Running (Picador, 2001), set in Plymouth, Tobago, is the story of young brothers Cliff and Ossie.[7] Tide Running won the Casa de las Americas Literary Prize for best English or Creole novel.[4]

Both of these books were nominated for International IMPAC Dublin Literary Awards, the first in 2000 and the second in 2003.[8]

In 2011, she participated in the International Writing Program's Fall Residency at the University of Iowa in Iowa City, IA.[9]

She was named a Great Talent for the Twenty-First Century by the Orange Prize judges and is a winner of the Casa de las Américas Prize.[10]

Her third novel All Decent Animals (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2013) was recommended on Oprah's 2013 Summer Reading List by Karen Russell, who said: "How am I only now finding out about this writer? It's as if she's inventing her own language, which is incantatory, dense, and lush. The authority and blood pulse of it seduced me."[11]


  • Buxton Spice (W&N, 1998). new edition, Phoenix House, 1999; ISBN 978-0753807392
  • Tide Running. Picador, 2001; ISBN 978-0330482530
  • All Decent Animals. Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2013; ISBN 978-0374534615


  1. ^ Petamber Persaud, "Peter Kempadoo - Preserving our literary heritage", Kyk-Over-Al, 18 March 2006. (Source: Interview with Peter Kempadoo on Monday 13 March 2006, Guyana Chronicle, Georgetown, Guyana.)
  2. ^ a b Author biography, "Was Me Mudda" — Artists in Conversation, BOMB 86, Winter 2004.
  3. ^ a b Simon Lee, "The excitement of writing: Oonya Kempadoo", Caribbean Beat, Issue 54 (March/April 2002).
  4. ^ a b Oonya Kempadoo biography, Macmillan Publishers.
  5. ^ Allyson Latta, "'Living in That Moment': Interview with Grenada-based novelist Oonya Kempadoo", Memories into Story, 11 March 2013.
  6. ^ Patrick Markee (11 July 1999). "The Tree That Knew Too Much". New York Times. Retrieved 29 May 2011.
  7. ^ Glenville Lovell (18 May 2003). "Body Heat". Washington Post. Retrieved 29 May 2011.
  8. ^ "Tide Running". International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. Dublin City Public Libraries. 2003. Retrieved 29 May 2011.
  9. ^ "2011 Resident Participants | The International Writing Program". iwp.uiowa.edu. Retrieved 2017-04-12.
  10. ^ "The Casa de Las Americas Literary Prize", Guyana Chronicle, 31 March 2012.
  11. ^ Karen Russell on "All Decent Animals", O's 2013 Summer Reading List.

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