Author Spotlight: Tochi Onyebuchi

Hey everyone! Of course this blog is a celebration of authors who promote diversity, but as of yet it has been almost entirely only book reviews. Of course these books are inspiring and important, but we should also talk about the people behind the veil of fiction. The people who breathe life into our favorite stories. The people who are pushing past boundaries and impacting our culture through our favorite art form: writing.

So today we’re going to talk about Tochi Onyebuchi. Our first author spotlight. You may recognize Tochi Onyebuchi as the writer of Beasts Made of Night or it’s sequel Crown of Thunder. Or maybe you recognize the beautiful cover of War Girls, and it’s sequel Rebel Sisters. Or maybe you have seen his most recent release, Riot Baby, when scrolling down your Goodreads feed.

Tochi Onyebuchi “graduated from Yale University, New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, Columbia Law School, and L’institut d’études politiques with a Masters degree in Global Business Law.” Before he was writing his wonderful fiction, he was working as a Volunteer Assistant Attorney General and Civil Rights Fellow with the Office of the New York State Attorney General. Which is all really quite amazing, and of course everything he learned in those years is laced within his writing today. It’s no small wonder that his writing is as beautiful and wise as it is.

Let’s Celebrate Some of Tochi’s Work:

Panel: Politics & Prose with RF Kuang

I was actually first introduced to Tochi in this panel that was actually to celebrate the release of RF Kuang’s (I probably never mentioned this before, but she is my #1 author crush) The Burning God. They spoke extensively on the responsibility they both hold in writing works of fiction (science fiction and fantasy no less) based on the tragedy that their grandparents had to endure. The balance between immortalizing the history and their story, and getting it incorrect in the translation to a work of fantastical fiction. And of course, they are both really smart people, and so they go off on many beautifully interesting tangents.

The number one thing that has stuck with me since watching this panel was a piece they discuss about using fantasy as a shield, to immortalize but protect their families. To write about their family’s most difficult traumas, but to translate it into fantasy to allow some creative freedom. Not to change the story, but to not force their relatives to relive these traumas. It was… beautiful. Watch the panel for free here.

Nonfiction, Essays & More

In addition to writing works of fiction, Tochi is fighting the good fight relentlessly. He is writing essays and nonfiction that are being spotlighted in publications like Tor.com and The SFWA. Every non fiction piece that I heave read by Tochi has truly made me feel so much. They are heart wrenching and real, and I appreciate every single word. Here are a couple that I’ve read and enjoyed and highly recommend.

Of course you can find more of Tochi’s nonfiction work on his website HERE. I definitely recommend, he carries his beautiful writing through in these works just as much as his fiction.

Short Stories

What is truly awesome about short stories is that it allows authors to really play with their genres in ways that a full length novel may not sustain. It forces authors to really value each word that they are including, and impressively are able to accomplish so much in such a short amount of words. It’s a great way to check out an author you haven’t read before to see if you like them! If you haven’t read any of Tochi Onyebuchi’s novels, perhaps it would be a good idea to check out some of his short stories! You can find a few of them here to read for free:

  • The Fifth Day
    • This was a short story that I read recently that has made me feel more emotion than any short story has made me feel in quite some time!
  • Screamers – Appears in Uncanny Magazine, Issue 30. Sept./Oct. 2019
  • A Room of One’s Own – Part of the Us in Flux series put on by Arizona State University’s Center for Science and the Imagination.

You can find more in selected collections and anthologies. Here is a list of them from his website.

Novels

Last but not least, of course, Tochi also writes novels. These probably have a bit more visibility, and you may have seen them on Goodreads or at your local bookstore. I won’t say much here, but what I will say is to stay tuned for a review of War Girls coming to Bookish Brews soon. 🙂

Have you read anything by Tochi Onyebuchi? Are any of the nonfiction or short stories popping out at you? Have you seen him on any other panel that I should watch?! Let me know!