Imachibundu Oluwadara “Chibundu” Onuzo (born 1991) is a novelist from Nigeria. Her debut book, The Spider King’s Daughter, was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Book Prize and the Dylan Thomas Prize, and was longlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize, the Etisalat Prize for Literature, and also received a Betty Trask Award.
Chibundu Onuzo Biography
Imachibundu Oluwadara Onuzo
Lagos State, Nigeria
Enugu State, Nigeria
The Spider King’s Daughter (2012); Welcome to Lagos (2016)
Early Life and Education
Chibundu Onuzo was born in 1991 in Lagos State, Nigeria, as the youngest of his parents’ four children. She had her primary at Corona Schools, Gbagada, and the early part of her secondary school education in Lagos State, Nigeria, and she relocated to England to attend St. Swithun’s School, an all-girls school in Winchester, Hampshire, to complete her GCSEs at the age of 14.
She received a first-class bachelor’s degree in history from King’s College London (2012) and went on to earn a master’s degree in public policy from University College London and also bagged a PhD at King’s College London (2018).
Onuzo started writing her first book at the age of 17, which was signed by Faber & Faber two years later and published when she was 21. She was the publisher’s first female writer to be hired at a young age. As Helon Habila noted in The Guardian’s review of Onuzo’s second book, Welcome to Lagos (2016), “Onuzo’s portrayal of human character is frequently too optimistic, her view of politics and society too charitable, but her ability to bring her characters to life, including the city of Lagos, perhaps the best-painted character of all, is impressive.”
For her studies on the West African Students Union, a group of young West African students who travelled to London between 1925 and 1970 to pursue their education and included future political leaders J.B. Danquah and Kwame Nkrumah, Onuzo was awarded a PhD in history from King’s College London in 2018. Dr. Onuzo taught a course on 20th-century African history at King’s College after receiving her PhD. Onuzo enjoyed teaching, but she preferred fiction to history, so she decided against a career in education in favour of writing. At the age of 27, Dr. Onuzo released her second book, Welcome to Lagos, in 2016, and at the age of 27, she joined the Royal Society of Literature as one of the youngest members ever.
Dolapo Is Fine, a short film that Dr. Onuzo co-wrote and co-produced, was released in 2020. Based on her research on West African students in London in the 1960s and 1970s, her most recent book, Sankofa, was released in 2021.
She contributed to the Margaret Busby-edited 2019 anthology New Daughters of Africa. In June 2021, Virago published her book Sankofa in the UK. According to The Guardian, it is “[a]n impressive novel that explores difference and belonging with a chilly intensity.” In the US, Catapult, and in Nigeria, Narrative Landscape, respectively, published Sankofa.
She got married in the last week of September 2022. The name of her spouse is currently unknown.
- The Spider King’s Daughter (Faber and Faber, 2012)
- Welcome to Lagos (Catapult, 2016)
- Sankofa (Virago, 2021)
- New Daughters of Africa
- Dolapo Is Fine
- Coming Home
- It’s Here
- Good Soil
- I Will Wait
Awards and Recognition
- The Spider King’s Daughter won a Betty Trask Award (2013)
- Shortlisted for the Dylan Thomas Prize and the Commonwealth Book Prize in 2012.
- In addition, the novel was longlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize and for the Etisalat Prize for Literature in 2013.
- In April 2014 Onuzo was selected for the Hay Festival’s Africa39 list of 39 Sub-Saharan African writers aged under 40 with the potential and talent to define future trends in African literature.
- In June 2018 Onuzo was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in its “40 Under 40” initiative.
- At the 2020 American Black Film Festival, the HBO Short Film Competition was won by Dọlápọ̀ Is Fine, for which Onuzo co-wrote the screenplay and which was based on her short story “Sunita“. The film, which was directed by Joan Iyiola, has also been longlisted for the Bafta British short film award.
Her estimated net worth is currently unavailable.
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