Chuma Nwokolo

Chuma Nwokolo

It lay on its belly, the whale, and even then it lay higher than the height of a man.

—from “Gluttony” in The Ghost of Sani Abacha

Biography of Chuma Nwokolo

Chuma Nwokolo, Jr. (@chumanwokolo) was admitted to the bar in 1984, after which he worked briefly for the Legal Aid Council and was managing partner of the C&G Chambers. He has convened legal and literary conferences, and was writer-in-residence of the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford and chair of Leys Newspapers, Oxford. Chuma has led creative writing seminars for Oxford Brookes University and Benue State University and delivered workshops at literary festivals.

Chuma Nwokolo is the publisher of African Writing magazine and has seven books to his credit, including two novels for young adults, The Extortionist and Dangerous Inheritance (Macmillan Pacesetters), a poetry collection, Memories of Stone, the novels Diaries of a Dead African, African Tales at Jailpoint, and One More Tale for the Road, and most recently, a collection of short stories, The Ghost of Sani Abacha. His work has been translated into Italian, Slovene and Slovak.

Nwokolo is based in Nigeria. Visit his website.

Why Worldreader loves Chuma Nwokolo

At one of the earliest editions of Worldreader San Francisco’s semi-monthly office book club Books & Brews, our co-founder David Risher made an impromptu request. He wanted us to read Chuma Nwokolo’s short story “Gluttony” ASAP. Director of Institutional Programs Tina Tam offered her phone to the group, which had Worldreader Mobile installed on it.

Within a few seconds, the San Francisco office was taking turns reading the story on Tina’s phone. Together, we heard Nwokolo’s dark tale about a Nigerian preacher whose Sunday is turned upside-down by the appearance of a whale on the beach in the middle of a famine.

Like many of the other stories in The Ghost of Sani Abacha, “Gluttony” is a carefully detailed allegory that opens more questions than it answers. Reading “Gluttony” together as a team reminded us that the communities in which we operate are complex and sometimes inscrutable because human nature is complex and sometimes inscrutable. It is not our differences, but our commonalities, that make cross-cultural collaboration an unpredictable and enriching process.

Chuma Nwokolo and Worldreader’s Elizabeth Wood
Chuma Nwokolo with Worldreader’s Elizabeth Wood in 2013.

Read Writing by Chuma Nwokolo:

  • The Ghost of Sani Abacha

    In the title story in this collection, a politician in his finest hour finds himself possessed by a begoggled demon. This dark comedy plus 25 other stories of life and love in the aftermath of autocracy are delivered with wit and insight by one of Africa’s most incisive writers. Buy
  • Diaries of a Dead African

    In Diaries of a Dead African, we find the three diaries of an embattled farmer, Meme Jumai, and his two sons: Abel, a failed writer, and Calama, an aspiring conman. Funny and idiosyncratic, Diaries presents an authentic face of a private dilemma with universal and tragic dimensions. Buy
  • The Extortionist

    The Extortionist was Chuma Nwokolo’s first novel. It is a young adult novel published in 1983. Buy