For the variety of ways he has contributed to African literary culture, this year’s Brittle Paper Academic of the Year is Uchechukwu “Uche” Peter Umezurike.
Umezurike is a Nigerian academic. He was born in Lagos. In 2016, he moved to Canada to pursue graduate studies in English after earning a masters at the University of Port Harcourt. Though he received his doctoral degree recently, in June 2021, he has already gained high honors for his scholarly writing. For his essay “Self-publishing in the Era of Military Rule in Nigeria” in the Journal of African Cultural, Uche was awarded the Abioseh Porter Best Essay Award and the Nigerian Prize for Literary Criticism. He is currently a postdoc at the University of Calgary where he won one of the Provost’s Postdoctoral Awards for Indigenous and Black Scholars for his forthcoming academic book project. His work will explore how African Canadian writers and filmmakers negotiate ideas about being home in Canada, centering the complexities of their stories of what it means to be a Black Canadian.
Umezurike stands out in his ability to straddle the worlds of academia and mainstream literary culture. He supports fellow writers through published book reviews, interviews, and event curation. He delights readers with literary fiction, poetry, and children’s stories, having published 10 books. His most recent books are Double Wahala, Double Trouble a collection of eleven short stories that provide glimpses into everyday Nigerian life and Wish Maker, a children’s book that teaches kids that there is more to Christmas than presents and that kindness is the best gift to have.
The balancing act of juggling scholarly work and creative work is no easy task. But, it is one that Umezurike performs with grace, advancing in literary criticism and research in the field but also enriching the experience of mainstream readers. We commend and celebrate Uche’s achievements and are excited to witness his growth and success as an academic and an author in the future!