Deji Bryce Olukotun is a writer and activist who received his bachelor’s degree from Yale College, a law degree from Stanford Law School, and a master’s degree in Creative Writing from the University of Cape Town, where he worked with notable South African writers such as André Brink, Mike Nicol, and Henrietta Rose-Innes.
His recent novel, Nigerians in Space (2014), is a speculative thriller that details the life of a Nigerian immigrant, Dr. Wale Olufunmi, a lunar rock geologist working for NASA. Wale devises a plan to steal a piece of the moon after a Nigerian government official makes an offer to scientists working abroad to return to Nigeria, invest in the nation’s knowledge production, and make Nigeria the center of technology on the African continent. The operation, nicknamed “Brain Gain”, catalyzes complex narrative arcs that interconnect the lives of several people from diverse places, spaces, and times. The sequel to Nigerians in Space, After the Flare, set several years later, imagines the life of an industrial engineer named Kwesi Bracket who loses his job at NASA after a catastrophic solar flare hits earth. He soon discovers that Nigeria operates the only functioning space program in the world and sets out to help launch a rescue mission to save a stranded astronaut. It will be published in September 2017.
Olukotun’s interest in science and technology stems from his work as an attorney with a background in human rights and technology. He currently fights for an open and secure internet at the organization Access Now. While a Ford Foundation fellow at PEN America, he worked with writer’s centers in South African, Myanmar, and Haiti. Defying easy categorization, Olukotun has published numerous short stories and articles. His piece We Are the Olfanauts, was published in a fiction collection entitled Watchlist: 32 Short Stories by Persons of Interest (OR Books / Catapult Books / Tachyon Books). Olukotun has also contributed to publications such as Electric Literature, Quartz, Vice, Slate, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Los Angeles Review of Books, the Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic, and World Literature Today.