Live UHBF Author Event - Tope Folarin ("A Particular Kind of Black Man")
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Tope Folarin is a Nigerian-American writer and Executive Director of the Institute for Policy Studies. He won the 2013 Caine Prize for African Writing for his short story "Miracle". In April 2014 he was named in the Hay Festival's Africa39 project as one of the 39 Sub-Saharan African writers aged under 40 with the potential and the talent to define the trends of the region. His story "Genesis" was shortlisted for the 2016 Caine Prize.
He was born as Oluwabusayo Temitope Folarin in Ogden, Utah, to Nigerian immigrants, and has four younger siblings — three brothers and a sister, all born in the United States. He grew up in Grand Prairie, Texas, where he moved with his family at the age of 14.
Speaking of his upbringing in a 2016 interview, Folarin said that he and his siblings were raised with "a deep respect" for Nigeria and Africa. The children were eager to visit Nigeria, but financial constraints prevented the family from doing so. "I think my writing reflects both of these aspects of my life—a sense of closeness to Nigeria, and a distance as well," he said.
After high school he enrolled at Morehouse College. He studied for a year and a half as an exchange student, first at Bates College in Maine, then at the University of Cape Town in South Africa, before returning to the US and graduating from Morehouse in 2004, with a B.A. He was named a 2004 Rhodes Scholar, and during the summer of 2004 was a Galbraith Scholar at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government. After that, he went to England to study at the University of Oxford, graduating in 2006 with an M.Sc. in African Studies and an M.Sc. in Comparative Social Policy.
His first novel, A Particular Kind of Black Man, was published by Simon & Schuster in August 2019. In it Folarin writes about a Nigerian family, new to America, as they try to assimilate. In 2021, Folarin won the Whiting Award for Fiction.