Tope Folarin

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Tope Folarin
Tope Folarin 0289.JPG
BornOluwabusayo Temitope Folarin
1981 (age 37–38)
Ogden, Utah
LanguageEnglish
Alma materMorehouse College;
University of Oxford
Notable awardsCaine Prize

Tope Folarin (born 1981) is a Nigerian-American writer. He won the 2013 Caine Prize for African Writing for his short story "Miracle".[1] In April 2014 he was named in the Hay Festival's Africa39 project as one of the 39 Sub-Saharan African writers aged under 40 with the potential and the talent to define the trends of the region.[2] His story "Genesis" was shortlisted for the 2016 Caine Prize.[3]

Early life[edit]

He was born as Oluwabusayo Temitope Folarin in Ogden, Utah, to Nigerian immigrants, and has four younger siblings — three brothers and a sister, all born in the United States.[4] He grew up in Grand Prairie, Texas, where he moved with his family at the age of 14.[5]

Speaking of his upbringing in a 2016 interview, Folarin said that he and his siblings were raised with "a deep respect" for Nigeria and Africa. The children were eager to visit Nigeria, but financial constraints prevented the family from doing so. "I think my writing reflects both of these aspects of my life—a sense of closeness to Nigeria, and a distance as well," he said.[6]

After high school he enrolled at Morehouse College. He studied for a year and a half as an exchange student, first at Bates College in Maine, then at the University of Cape Town in South Africa,[5] before returning to the US and graduating from Morehouse in 2004, with a B.A. He was named a 2004 Rhodes Scholar,[7] and during the summer of 2004 was a Galbraith Scholar at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government. After that, he went to England to study at the University of Oxford, graduating in 2006 with an M.Sc. in African Studies and an M.Sc. in Comparative Social Policy.[4]

Career[edit]

In 2013 Folarin became the first writer based outside Africa to win the Caine Prize, which he won for his short story "Miracle." The story is set in Texas in an evangelical Nigerian church.[8] The award of the prize — which is open to anyone who was born in Africa, is an African national, or whose parents are African — generated some discussion about whether the author's connection to Africa was strong enough.[9][10][11]

Tope said in an interview to The Guardian:

"I'm a writer situated in the Nigerian disapora, and the Caine Prize means a lot – it feels like I'm connected to a long tradition of African writers. The Caine Prize is broadening its definition and scope. I consider myself Nigerian and American, both identities are integral to who I am. To win … feels like a seal of approval."[8]

In April 2014 he was named on the Hay Festival's Africa39 list of writers aged under 40 with the potential and talent to define trends in African literature.[12]

He has served on the board of the Hurston/Wright Foundation in the United States.[8]

Personal life[edit]

Folarin lives in Washington, D.C.[13]

Publications[edit]

  • "Miracle," Transition, No. 109, Persona (2012), pp. 73–83[14]
  • "The Summer of Ice Cream", Virginia Quarterly Review, Fall 2014, Vol. 90, No. 4, pp. 54+[15]
  • "New Mom, from a novel in progress," Africa39: New Writing from Africa South of the Sahara, Bloomsbury Publishing, October 2014.
  • "Genesis," in "Callaloo," Vol 37, No. 5, Fall 2014.<https://muse.jhu.edu/article/565044</ref>

References[edit]

External links[edit]

  • "Tope Folarin". How Rhodes Scholars Think.
  • Webcast at the Library of Congress, 20 March 2014