Story of Igoni Barret, a little Port-Harcourt boy turn globally recognised writer

by Duchess Magazine

On March 26, 1979, Adrian Igonibo Barrett was born in Port Harcourt, Nigeria, to a Nigerian mother and Lindsay Barrett, a Jamaican poet and novelist.

Barrett is a novelist and short story writer. His first novel, Blackass, was released in 2015 after his two collections of short tales, From Caves of Rotten Teeth (2005) and Love Is Power, or Something Like (2013).

Igoni Barrett attended the University of Ibadan to study agriculture, but he changed his major to creative writing a year before he was set to graduate.

“My father was the first person to support me as a writer. I felt I had to prove to myself that I was serious about writing, so I gave the ultimate sacrifice – I gave up my university education for a self-education in writing.”

He was included on the Africa39 list of writers under the age of 40 who have the ability and potential to shape upcoming trends in African literature in 2014.

Barrett moved to Lagos in 2007 and there he met Femke van Zeijl, a Dutch writer and journalist who would later become his wife.

Igoni Barrett won the 2005 BBC World Service short story contest with a piece of writing titled “The Phoenix,” which was aired on January 2, 2006.

He received a Chinua Achebe Center Fellowship in 2010.

He received a Bellagio Center Residence and a Norman Mailer Center Fellowship in 2011.

In 2018, he served as a Civitella Ranieri Foundation Fellow.

At the International London Literary Prize’s 2021 competition, Igoni Barrett won the Charles Dickens Award.

In an initiative honouring Port Harcourt’s 2014 designation as the UNESCO World Book Capital, the Hay Festival and Rainbow Book Club identified 39 sub-Saharan African authors under the age of 40. Barrett was one of them.

His first book, Blackass, won the 21st Century Best Foreign Novel Prize from the Chinese Foreign Literary Society as well as the People’s Literature Publishing House.

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