Nigerian-American author Uzodinma Iweala read from and discussed his debut novel, Beasts of No Nation (Harper Collins, 2005), as well as his forthcoming nonfictional work on AIDS/HIV in Nigeria.
Beasts tells the story of a young boy soldier, Agu, who is forced into the army in an unnamed country in West Africa. Despite his love for school and dream to become a doctor, Agu finds himself in a guerilla warfare he finds both horrifying and fascinating. He faces a series of despicable crimes that begin with the killing of an unarmed soldier, ultimately causing him to lose his religious faith. Noted for its direct and idiosyncratic use of the first person narrative, as well as provocative content, Iweala’s book has received critical acclaim in numerous sources, including The New York Times, Time Magazine, Rolling Stone, and The London Times.
The son of a doctor and foreign minister for Nigeria, Iweala attended Harvard College and earned an A.B. in English and American Literature and Language in 2004. While there he received several awards, including the Hoopes Prize and Dorothy Hicks Lee Prize for Outstanding Undergraduate Thesis (2004); Eager Prize for Best Undergraduate Short Story (2003); and the Horman Prize for Excellence in Creative Writing (2003). In 2007, Iweala was named one of 20 best young American novelists by Granta Magazine. He is currently a medical student at Columbia University and conducting an internship at Saint Luke's Hospital.
Iweala participated in a Book Talk at the Gottesman Libraries on April 8th, 2010.