Taiye Selasi

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Taiye Selasi
Selasi at the Erlanger Poetenfest, 2013
Selasi at the Erlanger Poetenfest, 2013
BornTaiye Tuakli
(1979-11-02) 2 November 1979 (age 42)
London, United Kingdom
Alma materYale University; Nuffield College, Oxford
Literary movementRealism, Drama
Taiye Selasi on Twitter

Taiye Selasi (born 2 November 1979) is a British-American writer and photographer.[1][2] Of Nigerian and Ghanaian origin, she describes herself as a "local" of Accra, Berlin, New York and Rome.

Early life and education[edit]

Taiye Selasi was born in London, and raised in Brookline, Massachusetts, the elder of twin daughters in a family of physicians. Her father is of Ghanaian descent while her mother is of Nigerian heritage.

Her given name means first twin in her mother's native Yoruba. She had changed her surname several times; she was born with her mother's surname, she then adopted her step-father's surname (Williams), at 12 she had her surname changed to her father's (Wosornu), later she decided to adopt the hyphenated surname Tuakli-Wosornu (both her parents' last names), she eventually changed her surname to Selasi, a word from the Ewe language, that she translated as "answered prayer" or "God as heard".[3]

Selasi graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa with a BA degree in American studies from Yale, and earned her MPhil in international relations from Nuffield College, Oxford.[4]


Selasi's twin sister, Yetsa Kehinde Tuakli, is a physiatrist in the US. The first African member of the International Paralympic Committee, she competes in the long jump for Ghana's national team.[5] Selasi's mother, Dr. Juliette Tuakli, is a paediatrician in Ghana.[6][7] Renowned for her advocacy of children's rights, she sits on the board of United Way. Selasi's father, Dr. Lade Wosornu, is a surgeon in Saudi Arabia.[8] Considered one of Ghana's foremost public intellectuals, he has published numerous volumes of poetry.[9][10]

Selasi's parents separated when she was an infant. She met her biological father at the age of 12.[11]


In 2005 The LIP Magazine published "Bye-Bye, Babar (Or: What is an Afropolitan?)",[12] Selasi's seminal text on Afropolitans. In "Bye Bye Babar", Selasi describes a new African diaspora; a broader mix that accepts its diversity: "Perhaps what most typifies the Afropolitan consciousness is the refusal to oversimplify; the effort to understand what is ailing in Africa alongside the desire to honor what is wonderful, unique."[12] Selasi does not seek recognition as the originator of Afropolitanism, "She makes a point not to claim to have coined it, and she downplays her own role in the whole phenomenon that followed from it."[13] The conversation of Afropolitanism increased following the essay, and this paved the way for scholars like Simon Gikandi and Achille Mbembe to "further develop"[14] the term, Afropolitan, into a widely known a used ideology. The same year she wrote the essay, she penned a play that was produced at a small theatre by Avery Willis, Toni Morrison's niece.[15]

In 2006 Morrison gave Selasi a one-year deadline; she wrote "The Sex Lives of African Girls" to meet it. The story, published by UK literary magazine Granta in 2011, appears in Best American Short Stories 2012.[16]

In 2010 Ann Godoff at Penguin Press bought Selasi's unfinished novel. Ghana Must Go was published in 2013. It was acclaimed by Diana Evans in The Guardian,[17] Margaret Busby in The Independent,[18] by The Economist,[19] and by The Wall Street Journal.[20] Selected as one of the 10 Best Books of 2013 by The Wall Street Journal and The Economist, it has been sold in 22 countries as of 2014.[21][22][23]

In 2013 Selasi was selected as one of Granta′s 20 Best Young British Writers[24] and in 2014 named to the Hay Festival's Africa39 list of 39 Sub-Saharan African writers under the age of 40 "with the potential and talent to define trends in African literature."

Selasi collaborates frequently with fellow artists. In 2012 she partnered with architect David Adjaye to create the Gwangju River Reading Room, an open-air library erected in 2013 as part of the Gwangju Biennale's Folly II.[25] With director Teddy Goitom, founder of Stocktown, Selasi is Executive Producer of Afripedia, a documentary series about urban African creatives.[26] With producers Fernando Meirelles and Hank Levine (City of God), Selasi is developing Exodus, a feature documentary about global migration.[27]

In 2013 Selasi was a juror in the Italian reality TV show Masterpiece on Rai 3 with Andrea De Carlo.[28]

In 2015, Selasi appeared as a Featured Author, leading a writing seminar, at the annual Iceland Writers Retreat in Reykjavik, Iceland.[29] She is also a contributor to the anthology New Daughters of Africa (edited by Margaret Busby, 2019).[30]



Short stories[edit]

  • "The Sex Lives of African Girls" (2011)[32]
  • "Driver" (2013)[33]
  • "Aliens of Extraordinary Ability" (2014)[33]
  • "Brunhilda in Love" (2016)[33]


  1. ^ Lewis, Tim (22 March 2013). "Taiye Selasi: 'I'm very willing to follow my imagination'". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 27 March 2019 – via www.theguardian.com.
  2. ^ Selasi, Taiye (22 March 2013). "Taiye Selasi on discovering her pride in her African roots". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 27 March 2019 – via www.theguardian.com.
  3. ^ Vitzthum, Virginia (15 March 2013). "The Fascinator: Taiye Selasi". ELLE. Retrieved 2 July 2020.
  4. ^ "Taiye Selasi", Ghana Rising, 25 February 2012.
  5. ^ Virginia Vitzthum, "The Fascinator: Taiye Selasi", Elle, 15 March 2013.
  6. ^ "Dr. Juliette Tuakli, Child and Reproductive Health, University of Ghana, Legon. The Bill and Melinda Gates Institute for Population and Reproductive Health
  7. ^ "Juliette Tuakli". Jhsph.edu. Archived from the original on 14 December 2012. Retrieved 31 March 2011.
  8. ^ "Prof. Lade Wosornu", University of Dammam.
  9. ^ "Lade Wosornu". 9 September 2009. Retrieved 31 March 2011.
  10. ^ "Prof. Lade Wosornu Compiles His Articles into A Book". The Ghanaian Times. Archived from the original on 23 August 2011. Retrieved 31 March 2011.
  11. ^ "Family matters: how novelist Taiye Selasi came to terms with her very modern family", London Evening Standard, 5 April 2013.
  12. ^ a b Taiye Selasi, "Bye-Bye, Babar", The LIP Magazine, 3 March 2005.
  13. ^ Bady, Aaron, and Taiye Selasi. "From That Stranded Place." Transition 117 (2015): 148. Web.
  14. ^ Gehrmann, Susanne. "Cosmopolitanism With African Roots. Afropolitanism's Ambivalent Mobilities". Journal of African Cultural Studies 28.1 (2015): 61–72. Web.
  15. ^ Stefanie Cohen, "Growing Up With a Panther Mom", The Wall Street Journal, 28 February 2013.
  16. ^ "Interview: Taiye Selasi", Granta, 10 June 2011
  17. ^ Diana Evans, "Ghana Must Go by Taiye Selasi – review", The Guardian, 3 April 2013.
  18. ^ Margaret Busby, "Ghana Must Go, By Taiye Selasi" (review), The Independent, 29 March 2013.
  19. ^ "A singular voice", The Economist, 16 March 2013.
  20. ^ Sam Sacks, "An Auspicious How-Do-You-Do", The Wall Street Journal, 1 March 2013.
  21. ^ Molly Fischer, "Penguin Press Buys First Novel with Salman and Toni’s Seal of Approval", New York Observer, 14 June 2010.
  22. ^ "The WSJ Best Fiction of 2013", The Wall Street Journal, 13 December 2013.
  23. ^ "Books of the year: Torrents of words", The Economist, 5 December 2013.
  24. ^ Granta 123: Best of Young British Novelists 4, Spring 2013.
  25. ^ "david adjaye & taiye selasi: gwangju river reading room", designboom, 20 December 2013.
  26. ^ "Afripedia".
  27. ^ "Exodus Movie".
  28. ^ Rachman, Tom (13 November 2013). "Tired Metaphors? Ciao, Contestant!". The New York Times.
  29. ^ "IWR 2015". Iceland Writers Retreat. 7 June 2016. Retrieved 13 February 2020.
  30. ^ Onyeakabu, Adaobi (12 March 2019), "Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Taiye Selasi among 200 female contributors for New Daughters of Africa Anthology", Pulse Nigeria.
  31. ^ Cox Westmaas, Juanita (23 April 2013). "Taiye Selasi's 'Ghana Must Go': A Reader's Response". www.thenewblackmagazine.com. Retrieved 30 May 2020.
  32. ^ "'The Sex Lives of African Girls' by Taiye Selasi". www.litro.co.uk. Retrieved 30 May 2020.
  33. ^ a b c "Biography Of Taiye Selasi". Media Nigeria. 5 June 2018. Retrieved 27 May 2021.

External links[edit]