I was born in Enugu, Nigeria, and lived in the university town of Nsukka until I was 13. My family then moved to the suburbs of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where I completed high school. My younger sister, Simi, is a professor of sustainable design at Drexel University in Philadelphia. Her partner, Ezra is an atmospheric scientist, also at Drexel, and their oldest kid, Vesper, is 14, and their twins Esme and Quinn are a cutie 11 years old. My little brother Maher is an actor and scrum master. His wife Mandy works in administration at the University of Pittsburgh. They live in Pittsburgh with their newborn daughter Inara, along with its other football addled residents (see jollybengali.net for evidence). My parents moved to Dhaka in February 2023 after almost 4 decades in Pittsburgh, 54 years abroad. My father was a fiction writer and a professor of geology. He died in December 2023. My mother is a retired teacher of computer literacy and economics.
I consider Philadelphia my first real home in the US as I spent the decade after high school in that vastly underrated city. I did business undergrad and grad school there and also worked and played frisbee and danced and biked all over town. However, San Francisco, where I lived for four years and did my writing degree, is my favourite city in the US, maybe in the world.
In the summer of 2005, armed with a one way ticket to Bangkok, I left San Francisco to go travelling for a year (this turned into seven). I spent three years, on and off, in Bangladesh and India, funded in part by a Fulbright Scholarship, during which I researched and wrote my novel in stories, The Lovers and the Leavers (Bengal Lights Books 2014; HarperCollins India and Harper 360, 2015).
The rest of the seven nomad years, my pitch perfect if penniless life took me to over 30 countries on five continents with longer stints in Bangkok, Barcelona, Buenos Aires, London, and Mexico City. These years of travel are documented in a coffee table book of photographs and poems called The Long Way Home (Ogro Publishing, 2013).
In 2016, HarperCollins India published my memoir Olive Witch, about growing up in Nigeria, the States, and Bangladesh. It was released in the US by Harper 360 in 2017.
I currently live in New York City, and am working on a novel, Memory Alone (about memory loss, set in Berkeley and Brooklyn), a collection of photo-poems called The Passage, as well as a 4-generation memoir with my mother and grandmother.
The best way to get in touch with me is via email, and as anyone who knows me will tell you, I give good email, so bring it on…