Nana Nkweti

Cindy Seip

Nana Nkweti is a Caine Prize finalist and alumna of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Her work has garnered fellowships from MacDowell, Kimbilio, Ucross, and the Wurlitzer Foundation, among others, and she is also a professor of English at the University of Alabama. In her debut collection, Walking on Cowrie Shells: Stories (Graywolf Press), she draws freely from mystery and horror stories, realism, myth, and graphic novels. She vaults past realism, upending genre expectations in a satirical romp about a jaded PR professional trying to spin a zombie outbreak in West Africa, and in a mermaid tale about a Mami Wata who forgoes her power by remaining faithful to the fisherman she loves. Nkweti skewers racial prejudice and international adoption in “It Takes a Village, Some Say,” a tale about a teenage girl who leverages her adoptive parents to fast-track her fortunes. And in “The Devil Is a Liar,” a pregnant pastor’s wife struggles with the collision of western Christianity and her mother’s traditional Cameroonian beliefs. The New York Times called it “raucous and thoroughly impressive. … Nkweti’s utterly original stories range from laugh-out-loud funny to heartbreaking and are often both.”