22. ilb 07. - 17.09.2022

E. C. Osondu

Epaphras Chukwuenweniwe Osondu was born in Nigeria, where he worked for a long time as an ad writer. As a child, he devoured books like H. Rider Haggard’s adventure novel »King Solomon’s Mines« and Cyprain Ekwensi’s »An African Nights Entertainment«; after writing his first poems, Osondu began writing his own short stories. Plot stands in the foreground for him, as it did for his literary role models. When he still worked in advertising, which schooled him in instantly grabbing the reader’s interest, Osondu was active not only as an author and publisher, but also in the Association of Nigerian Authors. He says that what led him to pursue his literary career more seriously was the Internet, which not only enabled him to read works by authors from Nigeria and the whole world and to learn more about creative writing courses, but also to reach a much larger circle of readers for his own short stories.

In 2006, his »A Letter from Home« was chosen one of the ten best stories published in the Internet. After Osondu made the finals of the Caine Prize for African Literature in 2007 with his prose text »Jimmy Carter’s Eyes«, in 2009 he won this »African Booker Prize« for his short story »Waiting«. Like many of his tales, which have been published in journals like »Agni«, »Vice«, »Fiction«, and »The Atlantic«, »Waiting« initially appeared in 2008 in the magazine »Guernica«. It depicts life in a refugee camp from a child’s perspective and was praised by the publisher Meakin Armstrong for eschewing literary shenanigans and concentrating instead on compact narration that introduces the reader to a world most people cannot imagine. After Osondu had been a Fellow in Creative Writing at Syracuse University in New York in 2008, in 2009 the Caine Prize brought him a month’s residency at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. In the same year, his short story collection »Voice of America« was included in an anthology of contemporary African writers; in 2010 it was published as a work of its own. These stories play in Africa and the United States, often focusing on the discrepancy between the hopes of African emigrants and the reality awaiting them in America.

Osondu has lived in the United States since 2004 and teaches Creative Writing and other subjects as a Associate Professor at Providence College.