Chibundu Onuzo was born 1991. She is a Nigerian novelist. Her first novel, The Spider King’s Daughter, won a Betty Trask Award, was shortlisted for the Dylan Thomas Prize and the Commonwealth Book Prize, and was longlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize and the Etisalat Prize for Literature.
Chibundu Onuzo started writing at 17, had an agent by 18, signed with Faber at 19 and finished editing when she was 20. In 2011, the 21 year old Chibundu Onuzo’s fierce determination paid off and her first novel, The Spider King’s Daughter was finally published. As the youngest woman to be offered a two-book deal with Faber, one could be forgiven for smelling a gimmick, but one look at the reviews, and one glance over her words, paints a very different picture. This is a story with roots well beyond its years.
Nigerian Onuzo has always had a passion for the pen; as a child she used to type tales woven around the characters from American TV shows. But it wasn’t until she moved with her family to the UK that her imagination really began to take flight – with thoughts drifting back to her homeland of Lagos, she knew where her Romeo & Juliet-style tale would be set.
The city in Onuzo’s story is one in a state of flux, its people torn between tradition and modernity, corruption and truth, love and family loyalty, so when Abike (the favourite daughter of one of Lagos’ richest men) and a lowly hawker strike up an unlikely romance, dark revelations unravel to test their loyalties.
The Spider King’s Daughter is longlisted for the 2012 Desmond Elliot Prize.
Imachibundu Oluwadara “Chibundu” Full Onuzo Biography and Profile
Imachibundu Oluwadara “Chibundu” Onuzo was born in Nigeria in 1991, the youngest of four children of parents who are doctors, and grew up there in Lagos.
She moved to England when she was 14 to study at an all girls’ school in Winchester, Hampshire, for her GCSEs, and at the age of 17 began writing her first novel, which was signed two years later by Faber and Faber and was published when she was 21.
She was the youngest female writer ever taken on by the publisher. Reviewing her second book, “Welcome to Lagos (2016)“, Helon Habila wrote in The Guardian:
“Onuzo’s portrayal of human character is often 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.”
Onuzo received a first-class bachelor’s degree in history from King’s College London (2012), and went on to earn a master’s degree in public policy from University College London.
As of 2017, she is studying for a PhD at King’s College London.
Awards and recognition
The Spider King’s Daughter won a Betty Trask Award (2013), and in 2012 was shortlisted for the Dylan Thomas Prize and the Commonwealth Book Prize.
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 potential and talent to define future trends in African literature.
– Imachibundu Oluwadara “Chibundu” Full Onuzo Biography and Profile