Martin Luther, a 15th century German theologian wrote, “If you want to change the world, pick up your pen and write.”
That quote aptly describes the writing journey of Uzodinma Iweala, a medical doctor and writer whose book “Beasts of no Nation” written several years ago, at age 21, went down in history as Netflix’s first original feature movie.
Iweala developed ‘Beasts of No Nation’ from the undergraduate thesis work in creative writing, at Harvard and on October 16, 2015, It premiered on Netflix. Since then, it has been screened at major international movie festivals and nominated for several awards.
Uzodinma Iweala was born November 5, 1982/ He is an American author of Nigerian origin.
In 2007, Iweala was named one of Granta magazine’s 20 best young American novelists. Iweala’s mother, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, is the former Finance Minister and Foreign Minister of Nigeria.
His debut novel, Beasts of No Nation, won the 2005 John Llewellyn Rhys prize for best work of literature by a young writer.Uzodinma Iweala’s outstanding debut novel reveals the experiences of a young African boy conscripted into a ragtag army of guerrilla fighters .Iweala has found a voice for young Agu, an African child soldier conscripted into a brutal guerilla army, which is both harrowing and heartbreaking. The novel is testament to the profound ability of literature to show horror, dismantle it and identify its parts, and arrive in the silent ether of the aftermath with something utterly unforgettable and, most importantly, worth cherishing
Iweala was inspired to write about the issue of child soldiers after reading an article about the conflict in Sierra Leone while in high school and then, a few years later while he was president of the Africa students’ society at Harvard, meeting a former Ugandan child soldier whom he had invited to speak there. After reading autobiographies of other child soldiers, studying Amnesty International and UN reports and interviewing people who had been through the Nigerian civil war of the 1960s, he wrote the story that became ‘Beasts of No Nation.’
Uzodinma Iweala graduated from Harvard University, where he was a Mellon Mays Scholar and received a number of prizes for his writing, including the Eager Prize, the Horman Prize, the Le Baron Briggs Prize, and the Hoopes Prize, awarded for outstanding undergraduate thesis.
Iweala is now a medical student at Columbia University.. It’s taken him a while to make the final decision to take up his place but he displays a characteristic level-headedness in explaining the decision to study medicine for four years.
“I’ve had great writing teachers and mentors and great success with my first book. And I feel confident enough in my desire to write and drive to write that I can put it to the side for a second and focus on something else,” he says. “I also think that being young I need more life experience to be able to write about certain things that I want to write about.”