Chioma Okereke
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I’m Chioma Okereke. I’m a poet, short story writer, and novelist.

I started out as a shy performance poet before retreating to the sanctuary of the page over the stage. Before I knew it, longer form writing — short stories and novels — emerged. My debut novel, Bitter Leaf (Virago), was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers' Prize and my short story, Trompette De La Mort, received First Runner Up of the inaugural Costa Short Story Award.

I was born in Nigeria and grew up in London. Moving countries at a very young age allowed me to develop keen observational skills of the people around me in an attempt to assimilate. But fitting in doesn’t mean that you belong, or that you are seen within the cultures you’ve immersed yourself in. Invisibility coupled with the feeling of being on the outside has shaped my storytelling as I strive to find a way in, exploring the human condition along the way. I particularly love paying attention to the things — or the characters — that might otherwise go overlooked.

A coming-of-age story set in the real settlement of Makoko, Lagos, my upcoming novel, Water Baby (Quercus, April 2024) portrays the societal pressures on a young woman trying to escape the confines of her community and explores wider issues including climate change, digitalisation, gentrification, and resettlement. I set up Makoko Pearls to raise funds for the inhabitants of the informal settlement of Makoko, most of whom are living without access to basic social amenities. Get involved at

A self-labelled transethnic, I divide my time between the bustle of London, the hustle of Lagos, and the rustle of rural France. You can connect with me on Twitter/X, Instagram, and Facebook.

For all the people who feel they belong everywhere and nowhere - I see you. And you are welcome here.