Adewale Maja-Pearce

Adewale Maja-Pearce (born 1953) is an Anglo-Nigerian writer, journalist and literary critic, who is best known for his documentary essays.[1] He is the author of several books, including the memoirs In My Father's Country (1987) and The House My Father Built (2014), several other non-fiction titles and a collection of short stories entitled Loyalties and Other Stories (1986).

Adewale Maja-Pearce
Born1953 (age 67–68)
London, England
EducationSt. Gregory's College, Lagos
Alma materUniversity College of Wales;
SOAS University of London
OccupationWriter, journnalist and literary critic

Early years and educationEdit

Adewale Maja-Pearce was born in London, England, to British and Yoruba parents.[1] He grew up in Lagos, Nigeria, attending St. Gregory's College, Obalende (1965–69),[2] and returned to Britain for further education at the University College of Wales, Swansea (BA, 1972–75), and at the School of Oriental and African Studies, London University (1984–86), where he gained a Master of Arts degree in African studies.[3]

Literary careerEdit

He was employed a researcher at Index on Censorship and became the journal's Africa Editor (1986–97), as well as being Series Editor of the Heinemann African Writers Series (1986–94).[3][4]

Having returned to Nigeria, he lives in Surulere, Lagos, in a house inherited by his father, which he has written about in his 2014 memoir The House My Father Built.[5] Maja-Pearce runs an editorial services agency called Yemaja,[6] as well as a small publishing company, The New Gong.[3][7]


Maja-Pearce has written in various genres, his early published work featuring short stories drawing on his Nigerian background,[1][8] with his collection Loyalties and Other Stories appearing in 1986.[9]

Most notable, however, as an essayist, he has written several non-fiction books, including the 2005 Remembering Ken Saro-Wiwa and Other Essays, which in the opinion of critic Uzor Uzoatu "affords us the opportunity of dipping into the immense world of Maja-Pearce as he, in twenty-three heartfelt essays and reviews, illuminates the benighted mores of modern Nigeria, the identity question in South Africa … and engages with seminal minds across the world. ...This book is a treasure, a profound testament."[10] Maja-Pearce was the editor of Christopher Okigbo's Collected Poems (1986), as well as of anthologies such as The Heinemann Book of African Poetry in English (1990) and Who's Afraid of Wole Soyinka?: Essays on Censorship (1991), and also wrote the 1998 and 1999 annual reports on human rights violations in Nigeria.[3]

His memoirs include 1987's In My Father's Country: A Nigerian Journey and, most recently, The House My Father Built (2014), which the reviewer for the online magazine Bakwa described in the following terms: "a harrowing tale of Nigeria as it then was (1993–1999); a memoir of Adewale Maja-Pearce’s quest to possess his birth right, his country and personal dignity. ...Mr Maja-Pearce presents the greatest cast of characters in the history of Nigerian literature. And nothing comes close, no cliché, except you consider Basi and Company by Ken Saro-Wiwa."[11]

Maja-Pearce has written journalism, essays and reviews for a range of international publications, among them The New York Times,[12] Granta,[13] The London Review of Books,[14][15] The Times Literary Supplement, The London Magazine, and Prospect.[3] He became a contributing opinion writer for The International New York Times in 2013.[16]

Personal lifeEdit

Maja-Pearce is married to the artist/activist Juliet Ezenwa.[3][17][18]


  • In My Father's Country: A Nigerian Journey (William Heinemann, 1987), CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2011, ISBN 978-1467913973.
  • How Many Miles to Babylon? An Essay, Heinemann, 1990, ISBN 978-0434441723.
  • A Mask Dancing: Nigerian Novelists of the Eighties, Hans Zell Publishers, 1992. ISBN 978-0905450926.
  • From Khaki to Agbada: A handbook for the February, 1999 elections in Nigeria, Civil Liberties Organisation, 1999, ISBN 978-9783218895.
  • Remembering Ken Saro-Wiwa and Other Essays, New Gong, 2005, ISBN 978-9783842106.
  • A Peculiar Tragedy: J. P. Clark-Bekederemo and the Beginning of Modern Nigerian Literature in English, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2013, ISBN 978-1492184553.
  • The House My Father Built, Kachifo Limited, 2014, ISBN 978-9785284218.
As editor

Short fictionEdit

  • Maja-Pearce, Adewale (1986). Loyalties. Harlow: Longman.
  • — (2011). Loyalties (Reprint ed.). Nigeria: The New Gong.

Selected book reviewsEdit

Year Review article Work(s) reviewed
2018 "Where to begin?". London Review of Books. 40 (8): 20–24. April 26, 2018.
  • Comolli, Virginia (2017). Boko Haram: Nigeria's Islamist insurgency. Hurst.
  • Thurston, Alexander (2017). Boko Haram: the history of an African jihadist movement. Princeton UP.


  1. ^ a b c "Adewale Maja-Pearce Biography",
  2. ^ Adewale Maja-Pearce at LinkedIn.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Adewale Maja-Pearce page, Amazon.
  4. ^ Jenny Uglow, "BOOKS / A voice out of Africa: A story of sweet success and bitter controversy: the low-profile but high-grade African Writers Series has just celebrated its 30th year", The Independent, 3 January 1993.
  5. ^ "Kachifo Limited Presents ‘The House My Father Built’, by Adewale Maja-Pearce", Farafina Books, 13 November 2014.
  6. ^ "Yemaja Editorial Services".
  7. ^ The New Gong | New Media Publishers website.
  8. ^ "Fiction by Adewale-Pearce", Wasafiri, Issue 2: Spring 1985,
  9. ^ Dr P. Manickam, "Images of Contemporary Nigeria's Moral and Spiritual Malaise in the Short Stories of Ben Okri, Adewale Maja-Pearce and Okey Chigbo", in K. Balachandran, Critical Essays on Commonwealth Literature: A Festchrift to Prof. C. V. Seshadri, New Delhi: Sarup & SOns, 2006, pp. 197–202.
  10. ^ "Events", Project on African Expressive Traditions (POAET), Indiana University, April 2008.
  11. ^ Amatesiro Dore, "(Book Review) Adewale Maja-Pearce's The House My Father Built", Bakwa, 11 May 2015.
  12. ^ "Adewale Maja-Pearce", The New York Times.
  13. ^ Adewale Maja-Pearce page at Granta.
  14. ^ "Posts by Adewale Maja-Pearce", London Review of Books.
  15. ^ "Adewale Maja-Pearce" at London Review of Books.
  16. ^ "The Opinion Pages | Adewale Maja-Pearce", The New York Times.
  17. ^ Taudeen Sowole, "For art activist, Ezenwa Maja-Pearce 'Female artists are not super women'", African Arts with Taj, 8 March 2015.
  18. ^ Juliet Ezenwa Art.

External linksEdit