You Should Know About Lesley Arimah

July 9, 2019

There aren’t many things that excite Nigerians in these Buhari times, but if there’s one thing that unites us all, it’s the sight of other Nigerians getting recognition on the world stage.

Recently, Nigeria’s creative industry, from afrobeats to fashion, has enjoyed the biggest share of the spotlight. Nigerian authors may be the least popular of their peers, but as Achebe and Soyinka would have you know, they have been doing the Lord’s work for decades. Fittingly, in the last few years, Nigerian storytelling has gotten more attention than ever.

The latest recognition has come in grand style. Nigerian author, Lesley Nneka Arimah has been announced as the winner of the 2019 Caine Prize For African Writing. Launched in 2000, the Caine Prize is awarded to an African writer of a short story published in English. Arimah is in great company; past winners include E C Osondu, the late Binyavanga Wainaina and Helon Habila.

We know you want to stan, so if you’re looking to get familiar with her, here’s what you need to know about a woman who’s bound to become Nigeria’s latest literary darling.

IT BEGAN IN PORT-HARCOURT

Lesley Nneka Arimah was born in the UK. She grew up in Nigeria and other countries her father would move to for work. She started writing as early as 8 when she lived in Port Harcourt. Most of the stories she wrote around this time were fairy tales. She almost went to law school, but instead studied for an MFA in creative writing at Minnesota State University in the United States.

FUN FACT: She makes clothes too.

Arimah loves to write short stories about tradition, cultural dynamics and self.

She writes fiction with a mix of speculative and nonspeculative elements. Her stories always create new myths that speak to our current world and traditions. Like many other female writers of African descent, she addresses themes of mother-daughter relationships, feminism, justice etc.

Who Will Greet You at Home,” published in the New Yorker is the story about a woman in Nigeria who, in order to have a child, must first fabricate it from a material of her choice, which will determine its character. The fabricated baby will then be blessed by the woman’s mother and come to life, eventually transforming into a flesh-and-blood child.

No-one can ever accuse her of being unimaginative.

Arimah’s debut collection of short stories, “What It Means When A Man Falls From The Sky”, was published by Riverhead Books and Tinder Press in the UK and Farafina Books in Nigeria in 2017. Before that, her story, “Light” was published in Granta Magazine.

ACCOLADES!

Arimah’s got the sauce and the accolades to show for it. In 2015, “Light” won the 2015 Commonwealth Short Story Prize for Africa. Her 2017 collection, “What It Means When A Man Falls From The Sky” won the Kirkus Prize for Fiction, the Minnesota Book Award for Fiction and the New York Public Library’s Young Lions Fiction Award. It was also shortlisted for the 9mobile Prize for Literature in 2018.

She was shortlisted for the Caine Prize in 2016, 2017 and eventually won in 2019. “Skinned”, the story which won her the 2019 edition, is about a parallel universe where women go naked until they’re married.

SHE’S STILL WRITING

Nowadays, Arimah lives in Las Vegas where, according to her website, she’s currently working on a story about you.

Join The Conversation

Bring a friend.

You'll like this

March 9, 2020

Here’s everything that happened on Ultimate Love Day 29 As always, Sunday comes with at least one couple checking out, followed by the Love Guests openly nominating themselves for possible check out. After the nomination comes conspiracy theories and the unnecessary analysis of a game they already suck at playing. Jerry evicted and relationship is […]

Watch

Now on Zikoko

November 29, 2022

The Nigerian Voter is a series that seeks to understand the motivations that drive the voting decisions of Nigerians — why they vote, how they choose their candidates, why some have never voted, and their wildest stories around elections. This week’s subject of The Nigerian Voter is Kachi*, a businessman in his late 30s who […]

Recommended Quizzes

April 9, 2020

At some point in life, we all learnt that someone can be very intelligent and still lack common sense. That’s the difference between being book smart and being street smart. If you’re not sure where on the spectrum you fall, well, that’s what this quiz is here to tell you. Take it:

November 14, 2019

The fourth season of Big Brother Naija came to an end over a month ago, but the conversation surrounding the housemates is far from over. So, in a bid to keep the fire burning, we decided to create a quiz that tells you which famous member of the ‘Pepper Dem’ gang is your soulmate. Take […]

November 7, 2019

These days, everyone is always talking about how much sex they’re getting, or how little sex they’re getting, or how disgusting sex is etc. There’s just so much talk about sex, it’s almost impossible to know who’s lying and who’s telling the truth. In anticipation of our new series about the sex lives of young […]

October 30, 2019

2010 was a game-changing one for Nollywood, with our movies making serious cash and getting international acclaim. So, which of these hits released between 2010 and 2019 — from the pace-setting The Wedding Party to the divisive Trip To Jamaica — best suits your personality? Well, that’s what this quiz is here to answer:

More from Pop

Watch

Trending Videos

Zikoko Originals

September 13, 2022
Vs The World is a Zikoko original video series that follows best friends Astor and Hassan as they take on the world.
August 23, 2022
Zikoko Ships is a Zikoko Original series where we invite two people who share a relationship to play the Zikoko card games
December 14, 2020
What happens when a group of chatty young Nigerians talk about things they're passionate about? You get Nigerians talk. A show that discusses very familiar struggles for the average Nigerian. From relationship deal breakers to sex education with Nigerian parents to leaving Nigeria, be prepared for a ride.
November 2, 2020
'The Couch' is a Zikoko series featuring real life stories from anonymous people.
October 26, 2020
A collection of videos documenting some of the events of the EndSARS protests.
June 22, 2020
'The Couch' is a Zikoko series featuring real life stories from anonymous people.
June 22, 2020
Hacked is an interesting new series by Zikoko made up of fictional but hilarious chat conversations.
June 4, 2020
What happens when a group of chatty young Nigerians talk about things they're passionate about? You get Nigerians talk. A show that discusses very familiar struggles for the average Nigerian. From relationship deal breakers to sex education with Nigerian parents to leaving Nigeria, be prepared for a ride.
June 2, 2020
Quickie is a video series where everyone featured gets only one minute to rant, review or do absolutely anything.
May 14, 2020
Isolation Diary is a Zikoko series that showcases what isolation is like for one young Nigerian working from home due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

Z! Stacks

Here's a rabbit hole of stories to lose yourself in:

Zikoko amplifies African youth culture by curating and creating smart and joyful content for young Africans and the world.
X