Nigerian author Imachibundu Oluwadara “Chibundu” Onuzo was born in 1991. Her first book, The Spider King’s Daughter, was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Book Prize, longlisted for the Dylan Thomas Prize, and honored with a Betty Trask Award. It was also nominated for the Desmond Elliott Prize and the Etisalat Prize for Literature.
Early Life and Education
Chibundu Onuzo, the youngest of his parents’ four children, was born in Lagos State, Nigeria, in 1991. She attended Corona Schools in Gbagada for her primary education and the first few years of her secondary schooling in Lagos State, Nigeria. At the age of 14, she moved to England to enroll at St. Swithun’s Institution, an all-girls school in Winchester, Hampshire, where she finished her GCSEs.
She graduated from King’s College London in 2012 with a first-class bachelor’s degree in history. She later went on to acquire a master’s degree in public policy from University College London and a PhD at King’s College London (2018).
At the age of 17, Onuzo began writing her first novel, which was accepted by Faber & Faber two years later and released when she was 21. She was the first female writer to be employed by the publication at a young age. Welcome to Lagos (2016), Onuzo’s second book, received a favorable review from Helon Habila in The Guardian. Habila wrote, “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.”
In 2018, Onuzo received a PhD in history from King’s College London for her research on the West African Students Union, a group of young West African students who traveled to London between 1925 and 1970 to further their education and included future political leaders J.B. Danquah and Kwame Nkrumah. After earning her PhD, Dr. Onuzo instructed a course at King’s College on 20th-century African history. Onuzo loved teaching, but she preferred fiction over history, therefore she choose to pursue a writing career instead of a career in education. In 2016, Dr. Onuzo, then 27, published her second book, Welcome to Lagos, and was one of the youngest members ever to join the Royal Society of Literature.
In 2020, Dr. Onuzo co-wrote and co-produced the short film Dolapo Is Fine. Sankofa, her most recent book, was published in 2021 and is based on research she conducted on West African students in London in the 1960s and 1970s.
She contributed to the 2019 anthology New Daughters of Africa, which was curated by Margaret Busby. Virago released her novel Sankofa in the UK in June 2021. It is “[a]n outstanding novel that explores difference and belonging with a frigid intensity,” according to The Guardian. Sankofa was published by Catapult in the US and Narrative Landscape in Nigeria.
She got married in 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.