Tochi Onyebuchi

Tochi Onyebuchi (born October 4, 1987) is an American science fiction writer and former civil rights lawyer of Nigerian descent. After publishing three books aimed at young adults, he released his first adult book, the Nebula Award and Nommo Award nominated, Riot Baby, in 2020.[1][2][3]

Tochi Onyebuchi
smiling bearded black man wearing glasses and blue T-shirt
Onyebuchi at the 2017 Texas Book Festival
Born (1987-10-04) October 4, 1987 (age 33)
Northampton, Massachusetts
OccupationAuthor, lawyer
Alma mater
GenreFantasy, science fiction, young adult
Notable works
  • Beasts Made of Night
  • Riot Baby
Years active2017–present

Early life and educationEdit

Onyebuchi was born in Northampton, Massachusetts, to Nigerian Igbo parents[4] Nnamdi Onyebuchi and Elizabeth Ihuegbu Onyebuchi, and has a brother, Chibuike, and two sisters, Chinoye and Uchechi. His first name means "praise God" in Igbo.[5] He lived in New Britain, Connecticut until 1998, when his father died at aged 39,[6] after which he grew up in Newington.[7]

Onyebuchi was an avid reader growing up and was strongly influenced by X-Men comics. While he appreciated works by black authors he was required to read in high school, such as Their Eyes Were Watching God, Invisible Man and Native Son, he preferred adventure and science fiction stories.[8][4] In high school, he studied abroad for a year in France, where he fell in love with Alexandre Dumas's The Count of Monte Cristo,[9] and was inspired when he learned Dumas was of African ancestry.[8]

He majored in political science at Yale University, graduating in 2009.[10] He earned a Master of Fine Arts degree in Screenwriting from NYU's Tisch School of the Arts, a master's degree in Global Economic Law from Instituts d'études politiques in France, and a law degree from Columbia Law School.[11]


After earning his law degree, Onyebuchi began a career in civil right law, working in the Civil Rights Bureau of the New York State Attorney General's Office, as well as for New York City's Legal Aid Society. Onyebuchi felt burnt out within about two years of practice and became a domain expert at a high-tech firm, while keeping his civil rights interest alive through his writing.[7]

Onyebuchi wrote extensively growing up and attempted to sell his first novel in high school. He had written 17 novels by the time he finally published his first novel, Beasts Made of Night, in 2017.[4][7] It won the 2018 Ilube Nommo Award for Best Speculative Fiction Novel by an African. He published a sequel, Crown of Thunder, in 2018, followed by War Girls in 2019.[9]

In 2020, he published his first book aimed at an adult audience, Riot Baby, revolving around Kev, born during the 1992 Los Angeles riots and his sister, Ella, who possesses telekinetic powers.[1] Onyebuchi drew on his experience as a lawyer in setting much of the novel at Rikers Island in New York, where Kev is wrongfully incarcerated.[2]

He has also written for Asimov's Science Fiction magazine and Ideomancer.[12]

Personal lifeEdit

Onyebuchi resides in New Haven, Connecticut.[7]



  • Beasts Made of Night. Razorbill. 2017.
  • Crown of Thunder. Razorbill. 2018.
  • Riot Baby. St. Martin's Press. 2020.
War Girls series
  • War Girls. Razorbill. 2019.
  • Rebel Sisters. Razorbill. 2020.

Short fictionEdit

Title Year First published Reprinted/collected Notes
Place of worship 2014 Onyebuchi, Tochi (September 2014). "Place of worship". Asimov's Science Fiction. 38 (9): 24–39.


  1. ^ a b Meyer, Petra (January 26, 2020). "'This Isn't New': Questions For Tochi Onyebuchi, Author Of Riot Baby". NPR. Retrieved February 12, 2020.
  2. ^ a b Levine, Beth (May 30, 2019). "BookExpo 2019: Tochi Onyebuchi Channels Rage and Hope". Publishers Weekly. Retrieved February 12, 2020.
  3. ^ 2021 Nommo Awards Shortlist, retrieved June 3, 2021
  4. ^ a b c Ouellette, Katherine (January 23, 2020). "How X-Men And Black Lives Matter Shaped Tochi Onyebuchi's Riot Baby". WBUR-FM. Retrieved February 12, 2020.
  5. ^ "Tochi Onyebuchi". Author & Book Resources to Support Reading Education. TeachingBooks. Retrieved February 14, 2020.
  6. ^ "Nnamdi Onyebuchi; of New Britain". Hartford Courant. October 8, 1998. Retrieved February 12, 2020.
  7. ^ a b c d Dunne, Susan (October 25, 2017). "Dystopian Beasts Made Of Night By New Haven Author A Metaphor For Racial Injustice". Hartford Courant. Retrieved February 12, 2020.
  8. ^ a b "Author Tochi Onyebuchi Creates An Alternate Look At The Nigerian Conflict In His Novel 'War Girls'". The Breakfast Club. Power 105.1 FM. December 9, 2019. Retrieved February 12, 2020.
  9. ^ a b "Interview With an Author: Tochi Onyebuchi". Los Angeles Public Library Blog. January 16, 2020. Retrieved February 12, 2020.
  10. ^ Zhou, Carrie (January 22, 2020). "Tochi Onyebuchi '09 publishes sci-fi novel". Yale Daily News. Retrieved February 12, 2020.
  11. ^ "Tochi Onyebuchi". Penguin Random House. Retrieved February 12, 2020.
  12. ^ Coleman, Christian A. (January 23, 2020). "Interview: Tochi Onyebuchi". Lightspeed Magazine. Retrieved February 12, 2020.

External linksEdit