Uzodinma Iweala's outstanding debut novel reveals the experiences of a young African boy conscripted into a ragtag army of guerrilla fighters -- and signals the arrival of a major new talent. "Iweala was only 23 years old when he published this novel, but it is unmistakably an imaginative tour de force," note the Discover Great New Writers Award judges.
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Also Known As:
Uzodinma Chukuka Iweala
Date of Birth:
November 5, 1982
Place of Birth:
A.B., Harvard University, Magna Cum Laude in English and American Literature and Language, 2004
Harvard University Hoopes Prize and Dorothy Hicks Lee Prize for Outstanding Undergraduate Thesis, 2004; Eager Prize for Best Undergraduate Short Story, 2003; Horman Prize for Excellence in Creative Writing, 2003; Barnes & Noble Discover Award, 2006
|2005 Discover Award Winner!|
|Beasts of No Nation|
"For its breathtaking portrayal of the survival of the human spirit in the face of suffering and cruelty, Beasts of No Nation would be a remarkable accomplishment for a writer practicing at the height of maturity and skill," Discover Awards judge Carrie Brown notes. "Uzodinma Iweala was only 23 years old when he published this novel, but it is unmistakably an imaginative tour de force. Iweala has found a voice for young Agu, an African child soldier conscripted into a brutal guerilla army, which is both harrowing and heartbreaking. The novel is testament to the profound ability of literature to show us horror, dismantle it and identify its parts, and arrive in the silent ether of the aftermath with something utterly unforgettable and, most importantly, worth cherishing."
Read a chapter
|A Writer's Rituals|
|"I write everything by hand," Iweala revealed in our interview when we asked him to tell us about his writing rituals. "I write on unlined paper -- lines are distracting and ugly. I have journals -- they are sketchbooks, really -- either spiral bound or just bound, sometimes moleskins, but only if I’m traveling, otherwise my journal is large and unwieldy. I will only write in my journal with two specific Lamy fountain pens given to me by an ex girlfriend. One is black ink, the other is blue ink. I alternate pages -- one page is black and the facing page is blue."|
"I mean, okay, Philip Roth is Philip Roth, so it’s expected that the novel will be amazing," Iweala says of one of his favorite books, "but when you’re a 23-year-old African/African-American male who came of age in the late '90s and early part of the 21st century, and you find yourself so hooked on the story of a Jewish man from the 1940s-'50s, you have to just step back and acknowledge greatness."
|Things Fall Apart|
"I wouldn’t be a real Nigerian if I didn’t say this book," Iweala notes of another favorite, Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart. "It’s what made African writers like me possible." Iweala also praises Achebe's "fearlessness in tackling colonial misconceptions of Africa as a 'dark continent’ without social structure." Read our interview to learn more about Iweala's best-loved books, including: