The series "Conversations with African Poets & Writers" launched in the fall of 2011 with Ali Mazrui, who gave a talk on the state of contemporary African literature, and has followed with readings/discussions with emerging and established novelists, poets, and short story writers from around the Continent. The archive is a multi-partner literary program between the Library of Congress African and Middle Eastern Division and the Poetry and Literature Center, with the support of the Africa Society of the National Summit on Africa.
March 14, 2016
Namwali Serpell is a Zambian writer and associate professor at UC Berkeley. She is the author of several short stories, including “Double Men,” “Muzumgu,” and “The Sack,” which won the 2014 Caine Prize for African fiction in English. She is also the recipient of the 2011 Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award, a prize for emerging women writers. Her creative writing has been published in McSweeney’s, the Believer, Tin House, and n+1.
July 6, 2015
Lemn Sissay, an Ethiopian poet, playwright, novelist, and artist, is the author of numerous books such as Tender Fingers in a Clenched Fist, Morning Breaks in the Elevator, and Refugee Boy.Born in Wigan, England, a town in Greater Manchester, Sissay is official poet of the 2012 London Olympics, and was recently elected as Chancellor of the University of Manchester for a seven-year term.
May 21, 2015
Okey Ndibe, born in Yola, Nigeria, is the author of the novels Foreign Gods, Inc. and Arrows of Rain. His novel Foreign Gods, Inc. was named one of the 10 best books of 2014 by The New York Times, Inquirer, Cleveland Plain Dealer, and Mosaic. The novel was also included in National Public Radio’s list of best books of 2014. The 2015-2016 Black Mountain Institute fellow at the University of Las Vegas, Nevada, he is also co-editor of Writers Writing on Conflicts and Wars in Africa.
April 17, 2015
Okwiri Oduor, winner of the 2014 Caine Prize for African Writing for her short-story entitled “My Father’s Head,” was born in Nairobi, Kenya. Her novella The Dream Chasers was highly commended in the Commonwealth Book Prize 2012. Her work has appeared, or is forthcoming, in The New Inquiry, Kwani?, Saraba, FEMRITE, and African Writing Online. She recently directed the inaugural Writivism Festival in Kampala, Uganda. She teaches creative writing to young girls at her
February 3, 2015
Chinelo Okparanta was born in Port Harcourt, Nigeria. A University of Iowa Provost's Postgraduate Visiting Writer in Fiction as well as a Colgate University Olive B. O'Connor Fellow in Fiction, Okparanta received her BS from Pennsylvania State University, her MA from Rutgers University, and her MFA from the Iowa Writers' Workshop. She was one of Granta's six New Voices for 2012 and is a Lambda Award winner for Lesbian Fiction, an O. Henry Short Story Prize winner, a finalist for the Rolex Mentors and Proteges Arts Initiative, a finalist for the Etisalat Prize for Literature, and a finalist for the Caine Prize, among others. Her stories have appeared in the New Yorker, Granta, Tin House, The Kenyon Review, and elsewhere.
October 17, 2014
Véronique Tadjo is a journalist, painter, and award-winning author of numerous volumes of fiction, poetry and children's literature. Tadjo's work includes "A Vol d'Oiseau/As the Crow Flies," "Reine Pokou/Queen Pokou" (awarded the Le Grand Prix Littéraire d'Afrique Noire in 2005), "Le Royaumme Aveugle/The Blind Kingdom," "L'Ombre D'Imana/In the Shadow of Imana," and "Loin de Mon Pere/Far from My Father." Her books for children include "Mamy Wata and the Monster." She studied at the University of Abidjan, the Sorbonne in Paris, as well as Howard University. Tadjo is professor and head of the French department at Wits University in Johannesburg, South Africa, and in Fall 2014, visiting professor in the French department at Rutgers.
June 10, 2014
Zainab Hassan is the project director of the National Library Initiative of the Heritage Institute for Policy Studies in Mogadishu, Somalia. Originally from Somalia, Hassan received her BS from Old Dominion University and her MPA from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. From 2007 to 2012 she was program officer for the Minneapolis Foundation where she managed special purpose funds and led the program’s strategic focus area of Transform Education. A writer, poet and human rights activist, Hassan is the founder of the Somali Gender Equality Movement and is active in the African diaspora philanthropy and the Somali diaspora civil society.
March 20, 2014
Tope Folarin, winner of the 2013 Caine Prize for African Writing for his short-story entitled “Miracle,” was educated at Morehouse College, and the University of Oxford, where he earned two master’s degrees as a Rhodes Scholar. In 2014 he was named in the Hay Festival’s Africa39 project as one of 39 writers under the age of 40 with the potential and talent to define the trends that will mark the future of literature in sub-Saharan Africa and the diaspora. Folarin is also the recipient of writing fellowships from the Institute for Policy Studies and Callaloo, and he serves on the board of the Hurston/Wright Foundation. He lives and works in Washington, D.C.
Mukoma Wa Ngugi
December 3, 2013
Mukoma Wa Ngugi was born in 1971 in Evanston, Ill., and raised in Kenya. An assistant professor of English at Cornell University, he is the author of the novels Black Star Nairobi(2013) and Nairobi Heat (2011) as well as a poetry collection and a book of criticism. Named as one of Africa Magazine’s 100 Most Influential Africans in 2013, Ngugi served on the jury for the 2015 Neustadt International Prize for Literature. His most recent book of poems, Hunting Words with my Father, is forthcoming in 2015.
November 14, 2013
Abdourahman Waberi was born in 1965 in Djibouti. He is the author of many novels and collections of poetry. His novel Transit was published in English in 2012. His honors include the Stefan-Georg-Preis, the Grand prix littéraire d'Afrique noire, and the Prix biennal “Mandat pour la liberté.” Waberi is an assistant professor of French at George Washington University.
September 25, 2013
Amadou Koné was born in 1953 in Burkina Faso. He has published six novels and three plays as well as two studies on African oral literature and the novel. He has also co-published an anthology of literature from Côte d'Ivoire, and edited a collection of essays on African literature and cinema. A professor in the Department of French at Georgetown University, Koné’s honors include the 1985 Best African Novel Award from the Léopold Sédar Senghor Foundation.
A. Igoni Barrett
May 8, 2013
A. Igoni Barrett was born in 1979 in Port Harcourt, Nigeria. His collection of short-stories, Love is Power, or something like that, was published in 2013. Named by Hay Festival’s Africa39 project as one of 39 writers under the age of 40 with the potential and talent to define the trends that will mark the future of literature in sub-Saharan Africa and the diaspora, he is also a winner of the 2005 BBC World Service short story competition and recipient of a Chinua Achebe Center Fellowship, a Norman Mailer Center Fellowship, and a Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center Residency.
April 2, 2013
Omékongo Dibinga was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts to refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo. He is a poet and motivational speaker. His most recent book is From the Limbs of My Poetree (2004).
March 21, 2013
Maaza Mengiste was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. A 2013 Puterbaugh Fellow and Fulbright Scholar, she is author of Beneath the Lion’s Gaze, selected by the Guardian as one of the 10 best contemporary African books. The novel was named one of the best books of 2010 by Christian Science Monitor, Boston Globe, and Publishers Weekly.
November 9, 2012
Tijan Sallah was born in 1958 in Sere Kunda, Gambia. His book Dream Kingdom: New and Selected Poems was published in 2007. Sallah is an economist for the World Bank.
November 7, 2012
Anna Mwalagho is a Kenyan storyteller and poet. A 2013 Cultural Empowerment Award winner, she has published a collection of poetry, Poetry in Exile (2012).
September 25, 2012
Mandla Matyumza is a South African writer and Executive Head of the Cape Town Centre for the Book, a division of the National Library of South Africa. He is the author of numerous novels written in the Xhosa language.
May 1, 2012
Helon Habila was born in 1967 in Nigeria. He is the author of three novels, including Oil on Water (2010). In 2011 he edited The Granta Book of the African Short Story. Habila’s honors include the 2015 Windham-Campbell Literature Prize for Fiction, the Caine Prize, the Commonwealth Prize for Best First Novel, and a DAAD Artist-in-Berlin Fellowship. He is an associate professor in Creative Writing at George Mason University.
April 4, 2012
Donato Ndongo was born in Equatorial Guinea in 1950. His novel Shadows of Your Black Memory was translated to English in 2007. He was a visiting scholar in the Department of Romance Languages at the University of Missouri–Columbia.
April 3, 2012
Keorapetse Kgositsile was born in 1938 in South Africa. His most recent book of poems is If I Could Sing: Selected Poems (2010).In 2006, Kgositsile was inaugurated as South Africa’s National Poet Laureate. His accolades include two fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York Council of the Arts poetry award, and a Rockefeller Foundation award from Columbia University.
November 16, 2011
Susan Kiguli was born in 1969 in Uganda. Her collection of poems, The African Saga (2002), has been translated to English. A founding member of the Ungandan Female Writer’s Association Femrite, she was named an African Humanities Program postdoctoral fellow in 2010 and an African Studies Association Presidential Fellow in 2011. She is a senior lecturer at Makerere University.
October 7, 2011
Ali Mazrui was born in 1933 in Kenya. He is the Albert Schweitzer Professor in the Humanities and the Director of the Institute of Global Cultural Studies at Binghamton University, which he founded in 1991. He is also Albert Luthuli Professor-at-Large at the University of Jos in Nigeria and Andrew D. White Professor-at-Large Emeritus and Senior Scholar in Africana Studies at Cornell University.
November 3, 2008
Chinua Achebe was born in 1930 and died in 2013 in Nigeria. His many books include Things Fall Apart, selected as one of the “ALL Time 100 Novels” by TIME magazine. The novel has sold more than 8 million copies and has been translated into fifty languages.