Join us as we celebrate the publication day for Nana Nkweti's debut story collection, Walking on Cowrie Shells, on June 1st at 7PM! She will be in conversation with Karen Russell, the award-winning author of five books, including the novel Swamplandia!, and most recently, Sleep Donation. Nana Nkweti is well-known here at Hub City Writers Project—as a previous writer-in-residence, we are so pleased to welcome her back for the publication of her debut collection!
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In her powerful, genre-bending debut story collection, Nana Nkweti’s virtuosity is on full display as she mixes deft realism with clever inversions of genre. In the Caine Prize finalist story “It Takes a Village, Some Say,” she skewers racial prejudice and the practice of international adoption, delivering a sly tale about a teenage girl who leverages her adoptive parents to fast-track her fortunes. In “The Devil Is a Liar” a pregnant pastor’s wife struggles with the collision of Western Christianity and her mother’s traditional Cameroonian belief system as she worries about her unborn child.
“Nana Nkweti’s exuberant collection is full of stories that weave together love and friendship, horror and comedy, all with great deftness.”—Yaa Gyasi, author of Transcendent Kingdom
In other stories, Nkweti 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 a fisherman she loves. In between these two ends of the spectrum there’s everything from an aspiring graphic novelist at a comic con, to a murder investigation driven by statistics, to a story organized by the changing hairstyles of the main character.
Pulling from mystery, horror, realism, myth, and graphic novels, Nkweti showcases the complexity and vibrance of characters whose lives span Cameroonian and American cultures. A dazzling, inventive debut, Walking on Cowrie Shells announces the arrival of a superlative new voice.
“Beautiful and immersive. . . . Whether Nkweti is writing about water goddesses, zombies, or aspiring graphic novelists, she reveals and celebrates the rich inner lives of those who do not fit neatly into social and cultural categories. . . . Nkweti’s sentences soar, enthralling the reader through their every twist and turn, and often ending with a wry punch. . . . This is a groundbreaking and vital work.”—Publishers Weekly, starred review
Nana Nkweti is a Cameroonian-American writer, Caine Prize finalist, and graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Her award-winning work has garnered fellowships from MacDowell, Vermont Studio Center, Ucross, Byrdcliffe, Kimbilio, Hub City Writers, the Stadler Center for Poetry, the Wurlitzer Foundation, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and Clarion West Writers Workshop. As a Professor of English, she teaches creative writing courses that explore her eclectic literary interests: ranging from graphic novels to medical humanities on to exploring works by female authors in genres such as horror, afrofuturism, and mystery. Nana’s writing has been published in journals and magazines such as Brittle Paper, New Orleans Review, and The Baffler, amongst others. Her short story collection, Walking on Cowrie Shells, is forthcoming from Graywolf on June 1, 2021.
Karen Russell is the author of five books including Orange World and Other Stories and the novella Sleep Donation. Her first novel, Swamplandia!, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, winner of the New York Public Library Young Lions Award, and one of The New York Times’ Ten Best Books of 2011. She has received MacArthur and Guggenheim fellowships and is a former fellow of the NYPL Cullman Center and the American Academy in Berlin. Born and raised in Miami, Florida, she now lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband, son, and daughter.
Nana Nkweti is also offering a special giveaway for her event! One guest, randomly chosen, will receive one of her Walking on Cowrie Shells tote bags!