Tope Folarin

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Tope Folarin
Tope Folarin 0289.JPG
BornOluwabusayo Temitope Folarin
1981 (age 3940)
Ogden, Utah, U.S.
Alma mater Morehouse College (BA)
Harris Manchester College, Oxford (MSc)
Notable awards Caine Prize (2013)
Whiting Award for Fiction (2021)

Tope Folarin (born 1981) is a Nigerian-American writer. He won the 2013 Caine Prize for African Writing for his short story "Miracle". [1] 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. [2] His story "Genesis" was shortlisted for the 2016 Caine Prize. [3]


Early life

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. [4] He grew up in Grand Prairie, Texas, where he moved with his family at the age of 14. [5]

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. [6]

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, [5] before returning to the US and graduating from Morehouse in 2004, with a B.A. He was named a 2004 Rhodes Scholar, [7] 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. [4]


In 2013 Folarin became the first writer based outside Africa to win the Caine Prize, which he won for his short story "Miracle." The story is set in Texas in an evangelical Nigerian church. [8] The award of the prize — which is open to anyone who was born in Africa, is an African national, or whose parents are African — generated some discussion about whether the author's connection to Africa was strong enough. [9] [10] [11]

Tope said in an interview to The Guardian :

"I'm a writer situated in the Nigerian disapora, and the Caine Prize means a lot – it feels like I'm connected to a long tradition of African writers. The Caine Prize is broadening its definition and scope. I consider myself Nigerian and American, both identities are integral to who I am. To win … feels like a seal of approval." [8]

In April 2014 he was named on the Hay Festival's Africa39 list of writers aged under 40 with the potential and talent to define trends in African literature. [12]

He has served on the board of the Hurston/Wright Foundation in the United States. [8]

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. [13] In 2021, Folarin won the Whiting Award for Fiction. [14]

Personal life

Folarin lives in Washington, D.C. [15]



Short stories

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  2. Africa39 list of artists, Hay Festival.
  3. Alison Flood, "Nigerian author Tope Folarin in running for second Caine prize", The Guardian , 11 May 2016.
  4. 1 2 "Tope Folarin", How Rhodes Scholars Think, 2007.
  5. 1 2 Krissah Thompson, "Tope Folarin finds his place in the literary world", Washington Post , 24 July 2013.
  6. Akati Khasiani, "#CainePrize2016 | Interview with Tope Folarin",, 29 June 2016.
  7. "Black Students Awarded Rhodes Scholarship", Jet, 5 January 2004.
  8. 1 2 3 Liz Bury, "Caine prize won by Tope Folarin's 'utterly compelling' short story", The Guardian , 9 July 2013.
  9. Aaron Bady, "Miracles and Wonder, Faith and Diaspora: On Tope Folarin’s 'Miracle'", New Inquiry, 27 May 2013.
  10. Carolyn Kellogg, "Nigerian American Tope Folarin takes Caine Prize for African lit", Los Angeles Times , 9 July 2013.
  11. Simon Allison, "The Caine Prize controversy: How African do you have to be?", Daily Maverick, 11 July 2013.
  12. "Spotlight on Tope Folarin: 'I don't want to continue being an artist for long'", Africa39 Blog.
  13. "Book Marks reviews of A Particular Kind of Black Man by Tope Folarin". Book Marks. Retrieved 2019-08-09.
  14. "Tope Folarin". Whiting Award. 2021. Retrieved 2021-04-15.
  15. Charlotte Lytton, "Nigerian Tope Folarin wins Caine Prize for tale of deceit in Texas church", CNN, 9 July 2013.
  16. "Transition 109". Transition Magazine at the Hutchins Center.
  17. Tope Folarin, ""The Summer of Ice Cream", VQR, Fall 2014.