Uzodinma Iweala

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Uzodinma Iweala during a public reading at the Frankfurt Book Fair on October 17, 2008.

Uzodinma Iweala // (born November 5) is a Nigerian-American author and medical doctor.[1] His debut novel, Beasts of No Nation, is a formation of his thesis work (in creative writing) at Harvard. It depicts a child soldier in an unnamed African country. The book, published in 2005 and adapted as an award-winning film in 2015, was mentioned by Time Magazine, The New York Times, Entertainment Weekly, The Times,[2] and Rolling Stone. In 2012, he released the non-fiction book Our Kind of People, about the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Nigeria. He later released a novel titled Speak No Evil, published in 2018, which highlights the life of a gay Nigerian-American boy named Niru.[3]

Iweala is currently the CEO of The Africa Center in Harlem, New York.[4]

Family and education[edit]

Born and raised in the U.S. with American nationality, Iweala is the son of Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. He attended St. Albans School in Washington, D.C., and later Harvard College, from which he graduated with an A.B., magna cum laude, in English and American Literature and Language, in 2004.[5] His roommate at Harvard was the future mayor of South Bend, Indiana and U.S. transportation secretary Pete Buttigieg.[6] While at Harvard, Iweala earned the Hoopes Prize and Dorothy Hicks Lee Prize for Outstanding Undergraduate Thesis, 2004;[7] Eager Prize for Best Undergraduate Short Story, 2003;[8] and the Horman Prize for Excellence in Creative Writing, 2003.[5] He graduated from Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in 2011[9] and was a fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University.[10]


Beasts of No Nation (2005)[edit]

Speak No Evil (2018)[edit]

In his second novel, Iweala explores the intersections of race, class, gender, sexuality, nationality and the diaspora through the story of Niru, a Nigerian-American high-school senior living in a middle-class suburb of Washington, D.C., who comes out as gay to his white straight friend Meredith. The first two thirds of the book are narrated by Niru while the last third is narrated by Meredith. Niru must learn how to negotiate his many identities: being a Black man in America, being the child of Nigerian immigrants, coming from a middle-class background, as well as being gay. Niru is forced to confront the many ways in which he is privileged, as well as disenfranchised. Iweala also interweaves themes of religion, cultural dislocation, mental health, police brutality, and more, all of which further add to and further complicate Niru's life and identities.

Literary awards[edit]

In 2006, Iweala won the New York Public Library's Young Lions Fiction Award.[11] In 2007, he was named as one of Granta magazine's 20 best young American novelists.[12]


  1. ^ "Uzodinma Iweala | Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University". Retrieved November 26, 2016.
  2. ^ "The Sunday Times". The Sunday Times. May 5, 2013. Archived from the original on May 5, 2013.
  3. ^ Garner, Dwight (March 5, 2018). "A Young Man of Strict Nigerian-American Parents Comes of Age While Coming Out". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved May 29, 2020.
  4. ^ "Acclaimed Beasts of No Nation author Uzodinma Iweala – on science, power, and race". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. March 22, 2020.
  5. ^ a b "Barnes & – Uzodinma Iweala – Books: Meet the Writers". September 1, 2007. Archived from the original on September 1, 2007.
  6. ^ "Uzodinma Iweala on Instagram: "When your college roommate @pete.buttigieg is running for President and texts you at 4:15 like "hey wanna come to the @thedailyshow with me..."". Instagram. Archived from the original on December 25, 2021. Retrieved July 9, 2019.
  7. ^ "Okonjo-Iweala's Son's Book Named Among Best Of 2018". TheNigerian News. November 30, 2018. Retrieved May 29, 2020.[permanent dead link]
  8. ^ "Former Minister's son's book named among best of 2018". Crack Reporters | Your #1 Up-to-date News Website. November 30, 2018. Retrieved May 29, 2020.
  9. ^ Franklin, Marcus (February 11, 2007). "Young Author Iweala Set for Med School". The Washington Post. Retrieved May 27, 2010.
  10. ^ "Uzodinma Iweala | Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University". Retrieved November 26, 2016.
  11. ^ "Young Lions Award List of Winners and Finalists". The New York Public Library. Retrieved May 29, 2020.
  12. ^ "Uzodinma Iweala – Granta Best of Young American Novelists 2". April 30, 2007. Archived from the original on April 30, 2007.

External links[edit]