Christopher N. Okonkwo, Professor, returned to the English department at Florida State University in fall semester 2022 as a full professor after twenty-one years at the University of Missouri-Columbia. He is an alum of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (1989), Florida A&M University (1993) and FSU, from which he got his doctorate in 2001.
A seminal study, his first book A Spirit of Dialogue: Incarnations of Ogbanje, the Born-to-Die, in African American Literature (University of Tennessee Press, 2008) examines the cultural, literary, and philosophic incarnations of the West African spirit-child myth in contemporary African American fiction. Equally pathbreaking and the winner of the 2022 College Language Association book prize, his second book Kindred Spirits: Chinua Achebe and Toni Morrison (University of Virginia Press, 2022), makes major contributions to Achebe studies, Morrison studies, and Achebe-Morrison scholarship. It intervenes in various questions: how we have long discussed Morrison’s and Achebe’s literary careers and their trilogies, and those individual novels; how we have customarily talked about the Achebe-Morrison relations and the Morrison-African literature connections. And perhaps most important, it orients also in a latitudinal, transatlantic, East-West (Africa-America) direction what has for decades been a largely longitudinal, North-South, Europe-Africa posture of not just Achebe criticism ever since the publication of Things Fall Apart, but the literary discourses on modern and contemporary African literature at large.
- Kindred Spirits: Chinua Achebe and Toni Morrison. University of Virginia Press, 2022 Winner, 2022 College Language Association Scholarship Award
- A Spirit of Dialogue: Incarnations of Ògbañje, the Born-to-Die, in African American Literature. University of Tennessee Press, 2008
- “Sound Statements and Counterpoints: Ike Oguine’s Channeling of Music, Highlife and Jazz, in A Squatter’s Tale.” College Literature 46.3 (2019): 628-658.
- “Migration Blues in Jazz Styling: Spinning Them Overlooked Jazz and Blues Numbers in Brian Chikwava’s Fiction,” Research in African Literatures. 47.4 (2016): 152-170.
- “Chinua Achebe’s Blue Note: Toward a Critical Recording of Things Fall Apart’s Blues and Jazz Sensibility.” Research in African Literatures 47. 1 (2016): 109-127.
- “‘Coming to America’: Ike Oguine’s A Squatter’s Tale and the Nigerian/African Immigrant’s Narrative.” African Literature Today 27 “New Novels in Africa” (2009): 130-144.
- “‘It Was Like Meeting an Old Friend’: An Interview with John Edgar Wideman.” Callaloo: A Journal of African Diaspora Arts and Letters 29.2 (2006): 347-360.
- “Of Caul and Response: Baby of the Family, Ansa’s Neglected Metafiction of the Veil of Blackness.” CLA Journal XLIX. 2 (2005): 144-167.
- “A Critical Divination: Reading Sula as Ogbanje-Abiku.” African American Review 38.4 (2004): 651-668.
- “Space Matters: Form and Narrative in Nervous Conditions.” Research in African Literatures 34.2 (2003): 53-74.
- “Suicide or Messianic Self-Sacrifice: Exhuming Willa’s Body in Gloria Naylor’s Linden Hills.” African American Review 35.1 (2001): 117-131.
- Of Repression, Assertion, and the Speakerly Dress: Anzia Yezierska’s Salome of the Tenements.” MELUS: The Journal of the Society for the Study of Multi-Ethnic Literature of the United States, 25.1 (2000): 129-145.