Nigerian born Chinelo Okparanta received her BS from Pennsylvania State University, her MA from Rutgers University, and her MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. A Colgate University Olive B. O’Connor Fellow in Fiction as well as a recipient of the University of Iowa’s Provost’s Postgraduate Fellowship in Fiction, Okparanta was nominated for a US Artists Fellowship in 2012. She has been awarded additional fellowships and faculty appointments/visiting professorships at Columbia University, Purdue University, Middlebury College (Bread Loaf’s John Gardner Fellow in Fiction), Howard University (Hurston/Wright Foundation Summer Writing Workshop Fiction Faculty), City College of New York, and Southern New Hampshire University. She has been awarded residencies by the Jentel Foundation, the Hermitage Foundation, the Civitella Ranieri Foundation, as well as Hedgebrook. She is currently Assistant Professor of English & Creative Writing (Fiction) at Bucknell University, where she is also C. Graydon and Mary E. Rogers Faculty Research Fellow.
She is a winner of a 2014 Lambda Literary Award, a 2016 Lambda Literary Award, the 2016 Jessie Redmon Fauset Book Award in Fiction, and of a 2014 O. Henry Prize. Other honors include a nomination for the 2016 Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Legacy Award and the 2016 NAACP Image Award in Fiction. Her debut short story collection, Happiness, Like Water, was cited as an editors’ choice in the New York Times Book Review and was named on the list of The Guardian’s Best African Fiction of 2013. The book was nominated for the Nigerian Writers Award (Young Motivational Writer of the Year), longlisted for the 2013 Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award and was a finalist for the 2014 New York Public Library Young Lions Fiction Award as well as the Etisalat Prize for Literature. Okparanta was also a finalist for the 2013 Caine Prize for African Writing, the 2013 Society of Midland Authors Award, and the 2014 Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative in Literature.
She has published work in The New Yorker, Granta, Tin House, the Kenyon Review, AGNI, and other venues, and was named one of Granta’s six New Voices for 2012. Under the Udala Trees is her first novel.
Photo & Story credit: akefestival.org/chinelookparanta.com