Nalo Hopkinson
Hopkinson in 2007
Hopkinson in 2007
Born (1960-12-20) 20 December 1960 (age 63)
Kingston, Jamaica
OccupationWriter, editor
EducationMaster of Arts
Alma materSeton Hill University
GenreScience fiction, fantasy
Notable worksBrown Girl in the Ring (1998)
Skin Folk (2001)
The Salt Roads (2003)
Notable awardsPrix Aurora Award;
Gaylactic Spectrum Award;
Inkpot Award[1]
John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer,
Locus Award,
Sunburst Award for Canadian Literature of the Fantastic;
World Fantasy Award

Nalo Hopkinson (born 20 December 1960) is a Jamaican-born Canadian speculative fiction writer and editor. Her novels – Brown Girl in the Ring (1998), Midnight Robber (2000), The Salt Roads (2003), The New Moon's Arms (2007) – and short stories such as those in her collection Skin Folk (2001) often draw on Caribbean history and language, and its traditions of oral and written storytelling.

Hopkinson has edited two fiction anthologies: Whispers From the Cotton Tree Root: Caribbean Fabulist Fiction and Mojo: Conjure Stories. She was the co-editor with Uppinder Mehan of the 2004 anthology So Long Been Dreaming: Postcolonial Visions of the Future, and with Geoff Ryman co-edited Tesseracts 9.

Hopkinson defended George Elliott Clarke's novel Whylah Falls on the CBC's Canada Reads 2002. She was the curator of Six Impossible Things, an audio series of Canadian fantastical fiction on CBC Radio One.

As of 2013, she lives and teaches in Riverside, California.[2] In 2020, Hopkinson was named the 37th Damon Knight Grand Master, in recognition of "lifetime achievement in science fiction and/or fantasy".[3]

Early life and education

Nalo Hopkinson was born 20 December 1960 in Kingston, Jamaica, to Freda and Abdur Rahman Slade Hopkinson.[4] She grew up in Guyana, Trinidad, and Canada.[5] She was raised in a literary environment; her mother was a library technician and her father a Guyanese poet, playwright and actor who also taught English and Latin.[2] By virtue of this upbringing, Hopkinson had access to writers such as Derek Walcott during her formative years, and could read Kurt Vonnegut's works by the age of six.[2] Hopkinson's writing is influenced by the fairy and folk tales she read at a young age, among which were the Afro-Caribbean stories about Anansi, as well as Western works including Gulliver's Travels, the Iliad, and the Odyssey;[6] she was also known to have read the works of Shakespeare around the time she was reading Homer.[7] Though she lived briefly in Connecticut in the U.S. during her father's tenure at Yale University, Hopkinson has said that the culture shock from her move to Toronto from Guyana at the age of 16 was something "to which [she's] still not fully reconciled".[6][8] She lived in Toronto from 1977 to 2011, before moving to Riverside, California, where she works as Professor of Creative Writing at University of California Riverside.[9]

Hopkinson has a Master of Arts degree in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University, where she studied with her mentor and instructor, science fiction writer James Morrow. She has learning disabilities.[10]


Before working as a professor, Hopkinson held jobs in libraries, worked as a government culture research officer, and held the position of grants officer at the Toronto Arts Council.[2] She has taught writing at various programs around the world, including stints as writer-in-residence at Clarion East, Clarion West and Clarion South. Publishing and writing was stopped for six years due to a serious illness that prevented her from working. Severe anemia, caused by fibroids as well as a vitamin D deficiency, led to financial difficulties and ultimately homelessness for two years prior to being hired by UC Riverside.[2]

In 2011, Hopkinson was hired as an associate professor in creative writing with an emphasis on science fiction, fantasy, and magical realism at University of California, Riverside.[2][4] She became a full professor in 2014.[11]

As an author, Hopkinson often uses themes of Caribbean folklore, Afro-Caribbean culture, and feminism.[6] She is historically conscious and uses knowledge from growing up in Caribbean communities in her writing, including the use of Creole and character backgrounds from Caribbean countries including Trinidad and Jamaica.[6] In addition, Hopkinson consistently writes about subjects including race, class, and sexuality.[2] Through her work, particularly in Midnight Robber, Hopkinson addresses differences in cultures as well as social issues such as child and sexual abuse.[6]

Hopkinson has been a key speaker and guest of honor at multiple science fiction conventions. She is one of the founding members of the Carl Brandon Society and serves on the board.[2][12]

Hopkinson's favorite writers include Samuel R. Delany, Tobias S. Buckell, and Charles Saunders.[2] In addition, inspiration for her novels often comes from songs or poems with Christina Rossetti's poem "Goblin Market" serving as the inspiration for Sister Mine.[2] Personal hobbies include sewing, cooking, gardening, and fabric design.[13] Hopkinson designs fabrics based on historical photos and illustrations.[14]

Nalo Hopkinson speaking at a podium
Hopkinson at the Hugo Award ceremony in 2017

Awards and recognition

Hopkinson was the recipient of the 1999 John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer[15] and the Ontario Arts Council Foundation Award for Emerging Writers.[16]

Brown Girl in the Ring was nominated for the Philip K. Dick Award in 1998, and received the Locus Award for Best First Novel.[17] In 2008, it was a finalist in Canada Reads, produced by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.[18]

Midnight Robber was shortlisted for the James R. Tiptree Jr. Memorial Award in 2000[19] and nominated for the Hugo Award for Best Novel in 2001.[20]

Skin Folk received the World Fantasy Award and the Sunburst Award for Canadian Literature of the Fantastic in 2003.[21]

The Salt Roads received the Gaylactic Spectrum Award for positive exploration of queer issues in speculative fiction for 2004, presented at the 2005 Gaylaxicon. It was also nominated for the 2004 Nebula Award.[22]

In 2008, The New Moon's Arms received the Prix Aurora Award (Canada's reader-voted award for science fiction and fantasy)[23] and the Sunburst Award for Canadian Literature of the Fantastic,[24] making her the first author to receive the Sunburst Award twice. This book was also nominated for the 2007 Nebula Award for Best Novel.[25]

In 2016, Hopkinson received an Honorary Doctor of Letters from Anglia Ruskin University.[26][27] In 2020, she was named the 37th Damon Knight Grand Master by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.[3] In 2022, her Broad Dutty Water: A Sunken Story was awarded the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award for the best science fiction short story published the previous year, from the University of Kansas Center for the Study of Science Fiction.[28]



Collections and anthologies

Short fiction (first publications only)

Comic book series

See also


  1. ^ Inkpot Award
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Mindy Farabee, "Nalo Hopkinson's science fiction and real-life family", Los Angeles Times, 21 March 2013.
  3. ^ a b "Nalo Hopkinson Named the 37th SFWA Damon Knight Grand Master". SFWA. 1 December 2020. Retrieved 3 August 2021.
  4. ^ a b "Nalo Hopkinson author biography". Retrieved 23 November 2013.
  5. ^ Hopkinson, Nalo. The Salt Roads. New York: Warner Books, 2003. ISBN 978-0446533027.
  6. ^ a b c d e "A Conversation With Nalo Hopkinson", SF Site, 2000.
  7. ^ Donna Bailey Nurse, "Nalo Hopkinson: Brown girl in the ring", Quill & Quire, 2003-11.
  8. ^ Nalo Hopkinson Biography. Retrieved 5 June 2012.
  9. ^ Profile page Accessed 10 September 2016
  10. ^ "Nalo Hopkinson: 'I'll take my chances with the 21st century'". The Globe and Mail. 21 August 2015. Retrieved 10 October 2015.
  11. ^ "Nalo Hopkinson". UCRiverside Profiles. 2014. Retrieved 1 December 2020.
  12. ^ Gaylaxicon 2006. "Additional Author Guest". Archived from the original on 16 July 2011. Retrieved 22 March 2011.((cite web)): CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  13. ^ Sofia Samatar (25 February 2013), "'Write Your Heart Out': An Interview with Nalo Hopkinson", Strange Horizons.
  14. ^ Liptak, Nick (8 January 2010). "Nalo Hopkinson's Other World". The New Yorker. Retrieved 5 June 2012.
  15. ^ "John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer", Writertopia. Retrieved 21 June 2011.
  16. ^ "Hopkinson, Nalo 1960–". Retrieved 3 August 2023.
  17. ^ Nailah King. "20 Black Writers to Read All Year Round". Room. Retrieved 25 July 2020.
  18. ^ "Past Canada Reads contenders and winners". CBC Books. 31 March 2022. Retrieved 3 August 2023.
  19. ^ "James Tiptree, Jr. Award 2000 Short List". James Tiptree, Jr. Literary Award Council. Archived from the original on 22 July 2012. Retrieved 5 June 2012.
  20. ^ "2001 Hugo Awards". The Hugo Awards. 3 September 2001. Archived from the original on 5 June 2012. Retrieved 5 June 2012.
  21. ^ "2003 Novels and Collections | The Sunburst Award Society". Retrieved 3 August 2021.
  22. ^ "Nebula Awards 2004". Retrieved 3 August 2023.
  23. ^ "Prix Aurora Awards". Archived from the original on 22 July 2011. Retrieved 6 January 2011.
  24. ^ "2008 Sunburst Award Winners". The Sunburst Award Society. 17 September 2008. Archived from the original on 6 October 2015. Retrieved 5 June 2012.
  25. ^ "Nebula Awards 2001". SF Awards Database. Locus Science Fiction Foundation. Retrieved 1 May 2017.
  26. ^ "Jamaican author gets Honorary Doctor of Letters in the UK". Jamaica Gleaner. 22 October 2016. Retrieved 3 August 2023.
  27. ^ "Professor Nalo Hopkinson". A.R.U. Anglia Ruskin University. Retrieved 3 August 2023.
  28. ^ "Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award". Retrieved 16 March 2023.
  29. ^ Hopkinson, Nalo (15 March 2001). Under Glass. Grand Central Publishing. ISBN 978-0-7595-2209-1.
  30. ^ "Experience the extraordinary Chuma Hill cover for the forthcoming Nalo Hopkinson story collection". Tumblr. Retrieved 26 January 2015.
  31. ^ Hillhouse, Joanne C. (2022). "New Daughters of Africa edited by Margaret Busby (RR)". Jhohadli. Retrieved 3 August 2023.

Further reading