Under the Udala Trees
Ijeoma comes of age as her nation does; born before independence, she is eleven when civil war breaks out in the young republic of Nigeria. Sent away to safety, she meets another displaced child and they, star-crossed, fall in love. They are from different ethnic communities. They are also both girls.
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When their love is discovered, Ijeoma learns that she will have to hide this part of herself. But there is a cost to living inside a lie. Okparanta’s Under the Udala Trees uses one woman’s lifetime to examine the ways in which Nigerians continue to struggle toward selfhood. Even as their nation contends with and recovers from the effects of war and division, Nigerian lives are also wrecked and lost from taboo and prejudice. This story offers a glimmer of hope — a future where a woman might just be able to shape her life around truth and love.
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Chinelo Okparanta is a Nigerian-American writer. Born and raised in Port Harcourt, Nigeria, she emigrated to the United States with her family at the age of 10. She is a winner of a 2014 Lambda Literary Award, a 2016 Lambda Literary Award, the 2016 Jessie Redmon Fauset Book Award in Fiction, and of a 2014 O. Henry Prize. Other honors include a nomination for the 2016 Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Legacy Award and the 2016 NAACP Image Award in Fiction.
She has published work in The New Yorker, Granta, Tin House, the Kenyon Review, AGNI, and other venues, and was named one of Granta’s six New Voices for 2012. Under the Udala Trees is her first novel.
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