Nnedi Okorafor, the prolific science fiction, fantasy and magical realism writer has written her first nonfiction, a memoir, Broken Places & Outer Spaces: Finding Creativity in the Unexpected. The novel was published on 18 June, 2019 by Simon & Schuster imprint TED Books. It is her 15th book in 14 years, since her 2005 debut.
In Broken Places & Outer Spaces, Nnedi takes the reader on a journey from her hospital bed where she could hardly move her legs, her strange dreams, right into memories, from her first experience with racism as a child in Chicago to her visits to her parents' hometown in Nigeria and more. Through this memoir, Nnedi reveals that, what we perceive as limitations have the potential to become our greatest strengths—far greater than when we were unbroken.
Excerpt from Broken Places Outer Place
“I’d been in the hospital for a week and a half now and this was the fourth time I’d awakened from a vivid, strange dream, gagging. I hated codeine. “It’s milder than morphine, but it can give some people bad dreams,” my father said when I’d asked him yesterday if codeine had hallucinatory effects. “Some people.” People like me.
Because I couldn’t wheel myself very far into the hospital to visit with people my age, that afternoon I sat with young children as they did arts and crafts. Picking up a piece of blue clay, I began molding a long-legged woman. I used Popsicle sticks for her legs and rolled seven long thin chunks for her hair. In my mind, they were dreadlocks. Something told me to give her large breasts and I did this without question, knowing to trust and follow my creative process from the start. I hadn’t come up with a name for her yet but I knew it would be a name that Americans would find difficult to pronounce. I smiled, something I hadn’t done in a while.
The little boy beside me was making a truck and the little girl on my other side was just mashing the clay with her fist. The IV bag she carted around sat behind her, and I worried about the IV in her forearm falling out as she pounded. I liked being around these children. Their energy, no matter how depleted, was positive and shiny and sometimes I could talk smiles onto their faces. We had a lot in common. We liked to watch cartoons, play video games, and we were all incapacitated in some way.
Sitting up in the wheelchair was not easy to do for extended periods of time. It always grew uncomfortable, as it did now. But at least I had my clay lady. And she was special, I was sure of it. Knowing this somehow lessened the pain as I wheeled myself back to my room…”
Excerpt from ideas.ted.com