Chigozie Obioma truly is the heir to Chinua Achebe

New York Times Book Review

CHIGOZIE OBIOMA was born in 1986 in Akure, Nigeria, and currently lives in the United States. He graduated from the University of Michigan with an MFA in Creative Writing and was a recipient of a Hopwood Award in fiction and poetry. He is now an assistant professor of Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

His debut novel, The Fishermen, is winner of the inaugural FT/Oppenheimer Award for Fiction, the NAACP Image Awards for Debut Literary Work, and the Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction (Los Angeles Times Book Prizes); and was a finalist for the Man Booker Prize 2015, as well as for several other prizes in the US and UK. Translation rights are sold in twenty-six languages. Obioma was named one of Foreign Policy's 100 Leading Global Thinkers of 2015.

"I just finished reading Chigozie Obioma's astonishing first novel…The writing is so crisp, the story so unusual, that I couldn't put the book down even though it disturbed me. It was written to disturb. Four brothers, conceived by their parents to become happy and successful men, become instead harbingers of immense torment and grief. Someone must have observed that it is our children who can break us, when all other systems of oppression have failed. That is part of the tidings of this remarkable, mythic, book." Alice Walker

A stage adaptation of The Fishermen premiered in July 2018 at the HOME Theatre in Manchester, produced and directed by Jack McNamara of New Perspectives and with script by Gbolahan Obisesan. After a sold-out month at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival where it won the Edinburgh Award, it was a hit on tour in England and at the Arcola Theatre in London. See the trailer and reviews:

Chigozie Obioma's second novel, An Orchestra of Minorities, published by Little, Brown US and Little, Brown UK in January 2019! Translation rights are sold in 11 languages.

With a resonance that echoes from more than three hundred years ago, or even from the beginning of the world, An Orchestra of Minorities is a heart-breaking story of an Igbo man who sacrifices all he has for the woman he loves. Drawing on Milton to express the Igbo philosophy of destiny, free will and regeneration; Shakespeare to convey the complexities of tragic love; and Garcia Marquez to reconstruct the mythology of a lost West African civilization, this magnificent epic will awaken in all of its readers a shared sense of suffering and humanity. Set between Nigeria and Cyprus, a seed of this novel was an autobiographical essay that appeared in The Guardian, The Ghosts of My Student Years in Northern Cyprus.


Kirkus (starred)  “A deeply original book that will have readers laughing at, angry with, and feeling compassion for a determined hero who endeavors to create his own destiny.”

Publishers Weekly (starred) “Unforgettable…Obioma’s novel is electrifying, a meticulously crafted character drama told with emotional intensity. His invention, combining Igbo folklore and Greek tragedy in the context of modern Nigeria, makes for a rich, enchanting experience.”

Booklist (starred)  “Obioma alchemizes his contemporary love story into a mythic quest enhanced by Igbo cosmology. . . . Magnificently multilayered, Obioma's sophomore title proves to be an Odyssean achievement.”

 Library Journal (starred)   “Obioma overwhelms readers with a visceral sense of Chinonso's humanity, his love, his rage, and his despair as he struggles between fate and self-determination…Nigerian writer Obioma blazed into the literary firmament with The Fishermen, short-listed for the Man Booker Prize in 2015, but this second, more ambitious and imaginative novel may be the one that cements his name in readers' minds.”

Bookpage (starred) "A multicultural fable that her­alds a new master of magical realism… It's a special writer who can take the familiar tropes found within AN ORCHESTRA OF MINORITIES and infuse them with new life, transforming them into something exciting and unexpected…a tragic masterpiece."

Eileen Battersby, The Guardian "Obioma's frenetically assured second novel is a spectacular artistic leap forwards…There is nothing tentative about this new book, a linguistically flamboyant, fast-moving, fatalistic saga of one man’s personal disaster…Chinonso, whose temper becomes increasingly violent, is no Odysseus: he has more in common with Othello or Hardy’s Jude, or Alfred Döblin’s Franz Biberkopf in Berlin Alexanderplatz…Few contemporary novels achieve the seductive panache of Obioma’s heightened language, with its mixture of English, Igbo and colourful African-English phrases, and the startling clarity of the dialogue. The story is extreme; yet its theme is a bid for mercy for that most fragile of creatures – a human.”

Time "When Obioma, now 33, published his 2015 debut The Fishermen, which was short-listed for the Man Booker Prize, at least one critic compared him to Chinua Achebe, the godfather of Nigerian literature. His follow-up validates the comparison. The Odyssean Orchestra affirms its author's place among a raft of literary stars–Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Abubakar Adam Ibrahim and others–drawing the eyes of international critics to Africa's most populous country."

Boston Globe "Stylistic virtuosity…With his second novel Chigozie Obioma proves that the African folk tale can expand to embrace contemporary subjects, even while remaining true to its cultural roots. At the same time, he illustrates how the traditional realistic western novel may be perfectly adapted to Igbo cosmology, in which human beings are just one of many equal competing forces in a spiritually complex universe. It goes without saying, of course, that these tricks are not for kids and that only a master of literary form could manage to pull them off…It is more than a superb and tragic novel; it's a historical treasure."

The Economist "A triumph: a wholly unsentimental epic that unspools smoothly over nearly a decade, it is set with equal success across two continents, employing myth and spirituality to create a vibrant new world…In an era of copycats, An Orchestra of Minorities is an unusual and brilliantly original book."

Read Chigozie Obioma's essay in the Paris Review Daily: The Desire to Unlearn

Read Chigozie Obioma’s essay in New York Times Book Review (3/12/2018)

Read Chigozie Obioma's essays in The Millions: The Audacity of Prose and The Transcendent Power of Triangular Fiction

Chigozie Obioma's website