Portrait of Chinelo Okparanta

Chinelo Okparanta

Associate Professor of English
Specialization: short fiction and the novel, with emphasis on contemporary literature of the African diaspora
Cross Icon

C. Graydon and Mary E. Rogers Faculty Fellow

Chinelo Okparanta is the author of Happiness, Like Water (2013) and Under the Udala Trees (2015), the latter of which includes distributions and/or translations in countries not limited to UK, South Africa, Nigeria, France, and Norway. Okparanta has made repeated appearances on the BBC (England), NPR (USA), RTÉ Radio Arena (Ireland) as well as in stations across the African continent, ranging from Nigeria to South Africa. Her honors include an O. Henry Prize, two Lambda Awards, and finalist selections for the Etisalat Prize, the New York Public Library Young Lions Award, the Caine Prize, and the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative, among others. She has been nominated for an NAACP award in Fiction as well as the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award. Her stories have appeared in GrantaThe New Yorker, and Tin House, among others.

Educational Background

  • MFA, Iowa Writers' Workshop
  • MA, Rutgers University

Teaching & Scholarly Interests

  • Contemporary Literature of the African Diaspora
  • Realism vs. Afrofuturism: Beyond the Colonial Legacy
  • Dystopia vs. Utopia
  • Contemporary LGBTQ Literature
  • Culture and Cultural Appropriation in Fiction
  • Short Fiction
  • The Novel

Selected Publications


Under the Udala Trees, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015 (USA)

Happiness, Like Water, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013 (USA)


"My African Memory Lane," Metro (UK), February 1, 2016

"The Writer's Room," T Magazine, The New York Times Style Magazine, March 25, 2015

"Chinelo Okparanta Paints the Truth," The Story Prize Blog, September 2013

"Notes from Uzbekistan," GRANTA Online, Travel Issue, August 8, 2013

"The Other Side of Reality: A Visit To Turkmenistan," University of Iowa International Writing Program, June 21, 2013

"Tribute to Chinua Achebe," AGNI, Online Exclusive, May 2013


"Accent Reduction," StoryQuarterly, February 2015

"Hello. I Think You're Gorgeous!" Subtropics, December 2014

"Eko Hotel," The Gonjon Pin and Other Stories (New Internationalist), July 29, 2014

"Ife Adigo Market," Apogee, May 2014

"Marta," Tin House, December 2013

"Contamination," TriQuarterly, Summer 2013