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Aphroden Spotlight: Uzodinma Iweala

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Uzo 2

[caption id="attachment_5328" align="aligncenter" width="540"]uzo 1 Source: www.ninasubin.com[/caption] Born November 5, 1982 in Washington, D.C. (U.S.A.) to Dr. Ikemba Iweala (neurosurgeon) and Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala (renowned economist and current Finance Minister of Nigeria), as the 1st son of 4 children. Iweala attended boarding school at St. Albans School, Washington D.C. and Harvard College at Harvard University; earning an A.B. in English and American Literature and Language with honours in 2004.   Uzodinma has cited Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart as a major influence on his literary career. He also listed Ayi Kwei Armah’s “Two Thousand Seasons” and “The Famished Road” by Ben Okri among his other major influences. He has shown preferences to writing on the floor (‘as long as it’s carpeted’), and he writes everything by hand on journals or sketchbooks; before he then proceeds to type it, edit it and read it aloud to people. Uzodinma usually writes 2 hours a day, either late at night or early in the morning. [caption id="attachment_5329" align="aligncenter" width="555"]Uzo 3 www.newyorksocialdiary.com[/caption]

His senior thesis in Harvard, while he was under the tutelage of the celebrated Caribbean novelist Jamaica Kincaid, birthed his debut novel, “Beasts of No Nation” (2005). This novel was inspired by an article about the conflict in Sierra Leone he read while he was in St. Albans School. The novel has won him numerous awards which include: the Hoopes Prize and Dorothy Hicks Lee Prize for Outstanding Undergraduate Thesis, 2004, the New York Public Library's 2006 Young Lions Fiction Award, the Sue Kaufman Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the 2006 John Llewellyn Rhys Prize. In 2007, he was named as one of Granta Magazine's 20 best young American novelists. Beasts-of-No-Nation His passion for public health issues has driven him to volunteer at a refugee camp in Bauchi State (Nigeria), and advise Kofi Annan, Jimmy Carter (former U.S. President) and Nelson Mandela as part of Virgin Unite’s Elders Initiative. He’s also served as executive editor of Nigeria-based Farafina Magazine and will soon launch “Ventures”, the first pan-African business magazine, with his uncle. His hobbies include playing the jazz piano and the saxophone, photography, listening to music (any genre will do) and designing clothes – which he developed after he was jilted.   2011, Uzodinma graduated from Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and wrote a nonfiction book about Nigeria’s HIV/AIDS crisis, Our Kind of People: A Continent’s Challenge, A Country’s Hope (2012). He is currently a fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University.   His debut novel, Beasts of No Nation, which depicts a child soldier in an unnamed African country, has been announced for adaptation into a movie that will star British actor Idris Elba, and American director and film writer Cary Fukunaga as its director.   He is working on his next novel, – set in Washington, DC, in the months leading up to a terrorist attack – and on two multimedia projects, one about Timbuktu (Mali) and one about violence in post-conflict sub-Saharan Africa.   Written by Olusola Agbaje

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