Chigozie Obioma is a Nigerian writer of Igbo descent born in 1986. He is an assistant Professor of literature and creative writing at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He has been called, in a New York Times book review, “the heir to Chinua Achebe.
His first novel, The Fishermen, won the inaugural FT/OppenheimerFunds Emerging Voices Award, and was on the shortlists for the 2015 Man Booker Prize, the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize, the Edinburgh Festival First Book Award, and The Guardian First Book Award.
The Fishermen was a New York Times Sunday Book Review Editor’s Choice selection, one of the American Library Association’s five best debuts of spring 2015, a Publishers Weekly book of the week, and one of Kirkus Reviews′ “10 Novels to Lose Yourself In.”
In 2009, while living in Cyprus to complete his bachelor’s degree at Cyprus International University, where he graduated first in his class, Obioma began writing The Fishermen. The idea for the novel came when he reflected on his father’s joy at the growing bond between his two eldest brothers who, as children, had maintained a strong rivalry that would sometimes culminate in fistfights. As Obioma began pondering what was the worst that could have happened at that time, the image of the Agwu family came to him.
He started the book in 2009, when he was living in Cyprus, at that period he became really homesick. He kept thinking of his family and of returning home but his parents didn’t have the money. During a conversation with his dad on the phone, his father told him about the growing bond between two of his oldest brothers, who were age-mates. They used to have a lot of rivalry growing up. But now in their thirties, they have somehow bonded and have become almost inseparable. After the call, He started to reflect on a novel idea he had been working on.
Obioma finished the novel during a residency at OMI’s Ledig House in 2012, and completed an MFA in Creative Writing at the University of Michigan.
He received Hopwood Awards for fiction (2013) and poetry (2014), nominee Fiction writer of the year Nigerian Writers Awards (2015), 2016 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Debut Literary Work.