Tope Folarin

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Tope Folarin
Tope Folarin 0289.JPG
Born Oluwabusayo Temitope Folarin
1981 (age 36–37)
Ogden, Utah
Language English
Nationality American
Alma mater Morehouse College;
University of Oxford
Notable awards Caine 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 migrants, and has four younger siblings — three brothers and a sister.[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, spending a year and a half as an exchange student, first at Bates College in Maine, then the University of Cape Town in South Africa,[5] before he graduated 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 which he went on 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]


In 2013 he became the first writer based outside Africa to win the Caine Prize, which he won for his 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 — sparked some discussion about whether the author's connection to Africa was strong enough.[9][10][11] Tope himself 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 potential and talent to define trends in African literature.[12]

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

Personal life[edit]

Folarin lives in Washington, D.C.[13] He was married there on August 16, 2014, to Stephanie Borges, an educator.[14][15]


  • "Miracle," Transition, No. 109, Persona (2012), pp. 73–83[16]
  • "The Summer of Ice Cream", Virginia Quarterly Review, Fall 2014, Vol. 90, No. 4, pp. 54+[17]
  • "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.<</ref>


  1. ^ "Previous winners: 2013 Tope Folarin", The Caine Prize.
  2. ^ Africa39 list of artists, Hay Festival.
  3. ^ Alison Flood, "Nigerian author Tope Folarin in running for second Caine prize", The Guardian, 11 May 2016.
  4. ^ a b "Tope Folarin", How Rhodes Scholars Think, 2007.
  5. ^ a b Krissah Thompson, "Tope Folarin finds his place in the literary world", Washington Post, 24 July 2013.
  6. ^ Akati Khasiani, "#CainePrize2016 | Interview with Tope Folarin",, 29 June 2016.
  7. ^ "Black Students Awarded Rhodes Scholarship", Jet, 5 January 2004.
  8. ^ a b c Liz Bury, "Caine prize won by Tope Folarin's 'utterly compelling' short story", The Guardian, 9 July 2013.
  9. ^ Aaron Bady, "Miracles and Wonder, Faith and Diaspora: On Tope Folarin’s 'Miracle'", New Inquiry, 27 May 2013.
  10. ^ Carolyn Kellogg, "Nigerian American Tope Folarin takes Caine Prize for African lit", Los Angeles Times, 9 July 2013.
  11. ^ Simon Allison, "The Caine Prize controversy: How African do you have to be?", Daily Maverick, 11 July 2013.
  12. ^ "Spotlight on Tope Folarin: 'I don't want to continue being and artist for long'", Africa39 Blog.
  13. ^ Charlotte Lytton, "Nigerian Tope Folarin wins Caine Prize for tale of deceit in Texas church", CNN, 9 July 2013.
  14. ^ "Stephanie Borges & Tope Folarin", The Knot Wedding Registry, Washington, DC, 16 August 2014.
  15. ^ Brian Hewlett, "Announcing Sheridan’s Lower School Head", Sheridan School, 26 February 2016.
  16. ^ "Transition 109". Transition Magazine at the Hutchins Center.
  17. ^ Tope Folarin, ""The Summer of Ice Cream", VQR, Fall 2014.

External links[edit]