Chinelo Okparanta in Conversation

Hidden Histories and Forbidden Love – Chinelo Okparanta in Conversation with Olumide Popoola
Monday 9th October, 20:00, Studio Theatre, Library of Birmingham
Africa Writes Pop-Up at the Birmingham Literature Festival
Tickets: £8 / £6.40 concs / Free with a festival pass

Chinelo Okparanta’s deeply searching and powerful debut novel is about the dangers of living and loving openly. Ijeoma comes of age as her nation does; born before independence, she is eleven when civil war breaks out in the young republic of Nigeria. Sent away to safety, she meets another displaced child and they, star-crossed, fall in love. Inspired by Nigeria’s folktales and the set in the midst of the Biafran War, Under the Udala Trees (2015) uses the lifetime of one woman to explore love and truth of personal relationships, in the context of taboo, prejudice, conflict and division. The writer discusses identity, the testing of faith, and uncovering histories through the personal journeys of her characters.

Book Tickets


Chinelo Okparanta was born in Port Harcourt, Nigeria. A University of Iowa Provost’s Postgraduate Visiting Writer in Fiction as well as a Colgate University Olive B. O’Connor Fellow in Fiction, Okparanta received her BS from Pennsylvania State University, her MA from Rutgers University, and her MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. She was one of Granta’s six New Voices for 2012 and is a Lambda Award winner for Lesbian Fiction, an O. Henry Short Story Prize winner, a finalist for the Rolex Mentors and Proteges Arts Initiative, a finalist for the Etisalat Prize for Literature, and a finalist for the Caine Prize, among others. Her stories have appeared in the New Yorker, Granta, Tin House, The Kenyon Review, and elsewhere. In 2017, Okparanta was named one of Granta’s Best of Young American Novelists. Under the Udala Trees is her first novel.


Olumide Popoola is London-based Nigerian-German writer, speaker and performer. Her publications include essays, poetry, the novella This is not about Sadness (Unrast, 2010), the play text Also by Mail (edition assemblage, 2013), the short collection Breach, which she co-authored with Annie Holmes (Peirene Press, 2016), as well as recordings in collaboration with musicians. In 2004 she won the May Ayim Award in the category Poetry, the first Black German Literary Award. Olumide has a PhD in Creative Writing from the University of East London and has lectured in creative writing at various universities, including Goldsmiths College. When We Speak of Nothing (Cassava Republic Press, 2017) is her debut novel.

Part of the Birmingham Literature Festival. Presented by Africa Writes, the Royal African Society and the Department of African Studies and Anthropology, University of Birmingham.