Tochi Onyebuchi

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Tochi Onyebuchi (2019)

Tochi Onyebuchi (born October 4, 1987) is an American science fiction writer and civil rights lawyer of Nigerian descent.


  • …The idea of police forces as little more than white militia employed to ensure a certain social stratification highlighted just how temporally ever-present police brutality is in American history. And I wanted to capture the intergenerationality of the national paroxysms, embodied in the riots and protests that followed so many of these killings.
  • … I was wary of engaging in any sort of savior complex; the incarcerated are most qualified to speak about their own experiences, but I wanted to tell people some of what I saw and heard and read about in these places. I had to get it out of me. And, given my time in law school and as a legal professional who has dealt in these systems, I felt I had the kind of background that was needed to do this telling. This wasn't a faceless black mass I was trying to humanize, these were specific stories I needed to get out of me and felt were especially compelling…
  • As some are drawn to bars and others to churches, I’m drawn to bookstores and libraries. They’re sanctuaries. They’re sanctuary. Hope germinates in me that osmosis will take place and whatever goodness is in those books that got them a place on those shelves will leak into me and I’ll produce something that could someday go there.
  • They provide relief. Sometimes, it’s the relief of the same genre as what we find in a church sanctuary when the minister ascends to the pulpit and late-morning sunlight is blasting through the windows behind him to gild him and the congregants before you as the choir reaches the climax of the doxology. Sometimes, it’s the relief of a kind yet somehow firm-and-gentle hand at the back of the neck, kneading away not sorrow but the loneliness that can attend it. Sometimes, it’s the relief of discovering you’re no longer bound by the laws of gravity and that, yes, you can actually fly. Sometimes, it’s an answer. Stories do all of these things for us. I’m convinced we’d be utterly lost without them.

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