If you don’t know who N.K. Jemisin is, now is the time to get familiar with her. She is the force that’s currently taking the science fiction world by storm, winning the genre’s most prestigious prize—the 2018 Hugo Award for best novel—for the third time in a row, this past Sunday. It’s only a matter of (a hopefully short) time before her Broken Earth trilogy of books hits the screen, propelling her to a household name as recognizable as J.K. Rowling or J.R.R. Tolkien. She won the 2018 Best Novel Hugo Award for the third novel in her Broken Earth series, The Stone Sky.
When the term “science fiction author” is mentioned, images of white male writers most likely spring to mind, as they have traditionally dominated the genre. But the genre today is much more diverse with black authors gaining rapid ground and women authors claiming their place too. Just this year alone, several other women authors received Hugo awards for best short story, best novella, and best series. And another black science fiction author, Nnedi Okorafor, picked up a non-Hugo Award for the best young adult book for her novel, Akata Warrior and was nominated for the 2018 Hugo in the novella category. In 2016, Okorafor was the first Nigerian to win the Hugo Award for her novella, Binti.
Jemisin’s three-streak win is being hailed as a defiant triumph in the face of an alt-right extremist subculture within the science fiction fantasy world, which has a history of being proudly racist and reluctant to diversify the space. It can even be seen as a beacon of hope amid the nation’s current racial climate.
As Jemisin continues her reign, here are some fun facts that will get you up to speed on the powerhouse who says she’s not interested in living up to the racist and sexist status quo of the science fiction realm.
- Nora K. Jemisin made history as the first writer ever to win the prestigious Hugo Award three times in a row with her Broken Earth trilogy of books.
- She is the first black author to ever win the Hugo Award in the best novel category for The Fifth Season, a post-apocalyptic tale and commentary on society and race relations.
- The Fifth Season is currently being developed as a TV drama series for the TNT network, with Leigh Dana Jackson penning the adaptation, according to Deadline.
- Her Broken Earth trilogy series of books, as well as her other novels, draws on the human history of structural oppression, and her feelings about this moment in American history.
- Her first novel, The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, was published in 2010 to critical acclaim, garnering her nominations for a Hugo, a Nebula, and a World Fantasy Award that year.
- She was born in Iowa but currently lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.
- In her 2018 acceptance speech, which is being called one of the best acceptance speeches in the history of the 65-year-old Hugo Awards, she stressed that she wrote the Broken Earth trilogy “to speak to that struggle, and what it takes to live, let alone thrive, in a world that seems determined to break you—a world of people who constantly question your competence, your relevance, your very existence.”
See Jemisin’s full acceptance speech, below.