Award-winning sci-fi author Nnedi Okorafor to speak

Best-selling author Nnedi Okorafor
Writer Nnedi Okorafor has won Hugo and Nebula awards for her Africanfuturist novels and comics. (Courtesy photo)

A prestigious university — on a faraway planet. 

Niger, Africa — in 2074.

A modern laboratory — in Wakanda.

These are some of the fabulous worlds created by New York Times bestselling author Nnedi Okorafor, who will speak at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 7, in Umrath Hall Lounge at Washington University in St. Louis. The event is sponsored by the African Students Association (ASA) at Washington University, with support from the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship Program. Left Bank Books will have books available to be purchased and signed.

“There’s more vivid imagination in a page of Nnedi Okorafor’s work than in whole volumes of ordinary fantasy epics,” author Ursula Le Guin famously said of Okorafor. 

Nnedi’s characters are as fascinating as her places, said WashU student Joy Ani, who, as ASA internal publicity chair, worked to bring Okorafor to campus. She is a big fan of Binti, the mathematical genius of Okorafor’s bestselling “Binti” trilogy. 

“Her work is very empowering to young women, who are often the main characters in her books and comics,” Ani said. 

Okorafor has published 18 books in less than 20 years, winning numerous awards including the Hugo, Nebula and Locus awards. She also has written the Africanfuturist comic series “LaGuardia,” the Marvel comics “Black Panther: Long Live the King” and “Wakanda Forever,” as well as the series “Shuri.” As impressive to her WashU fans, Okorafor has earned four degrees — a PhD in literature, master’s degrees in journalism and literature and a bachelor’s degree in rhetoric. 

If Okorafor isn’t widely known yet, she soon will be. George R.R. Martin, of “Game of Thrones” fame, has signed on to produce her 2010 novel, “Who Fears Death,” for HBO.