Listen to Nana Nkweti’s New Short Story “Dance the Fiya Dance”
From the Ursa Short Fiction Podcast with Deesha Philyaw and Dawnie Walton
On the latest episode of Ursa Short Fiction, Deesha Philyaw and Dawnie Walton introduce their latest short story pick, Nana Nkweti’s “Dance the Fiya Dance,” from her acclaimed 2021 debut collection, Walking On Cowrie Shells, published by Graywolf Press.
Through a series of journal entries, we meet Chambu, a DC-based linguistic anthropologist and “Halfrican” (daughter of a Cameroonian mom and African American dad) who processes a devastating loss while sparking a sexy new romance.
Then come back in a week for Dawnie Walton and Deesha Philyaw’s conversation with Nkweti about the origins of “Dance the Fiya Dance,” as well as her award-winning story collection.
“Dance the Fiya Dance” is performed by Enih Agwe, with music and mixing by Alexis Adimora, and illustrations by Halimah Smith at Artpce. Ursa Executive producers are Dawnie Walton and Mark Armstrong.
Nana Nkweti is a Cameroonian-American writer, Whiting Award winner, and AKO Caine Prize finalist whose work has garnered fellowships from MacDowell, Vermont Studio Center, Ucross, Byrdcliffe, Kimbilio, Hub City Writers, the Stadler Center for Poetry, the Wurlitzer Foundation, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and Clarion West Writers Workshop. Her first book, Walking on Cowrie Shells, was hailed by The New York Times review as a “raucous and thoroughly impressive debut” with “stories to get lost in again and again.”
The collection is also a New York Times Editor’s Choice, Indie Next pick, recipient of starred reviews from Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, and BookPage; and has been featured in The New Yorker, Harper’s Bazaar, Oprah Daily, The Root, NPR, Buzzfeed, and Thrillist; amongst others. The work features elements of mystery, horror, myth, and graphic novels to showcase the complexity and vibrance of African diaspora cultures and identities. She is a professor of English at the University of Alabama where she teaches creative writing courses that explore her eclectic literary interests: ranging from graphic novels to medical humanities onto exploring works by female authors in genres such as horror, Afrofuturism, and mystery.