The award-winning Nigerian science fiction writer, editor and publisher Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki will be a featured reader at the Galactic Philadelphia Literary Salon at The Rosenbach Library & Museum on January 18th. But that almost didn’t happen. The U.S. Embassy in Nigeria had denied Ekpeki a visa to come to the United States after a two-minute interview that didn’t even reference any of the documentation he provided about his standing as a literary figure. He later received the denial in a form letter that stated no appeal would be possible.
Ekpeki had applied for the visa in order to initially attend the World Conference of Science Fiction (Worldcon) in Chicago this past autumn. The Worldcon had scheduled him as a speaker at the conference and a guest at the Hugo Awards gala. The Hugo Award is one of the most prestigious honors for literary excellence in science fiction, and Ekpeki was a finalist in two categories – as an author and as an editor. After the Worldcon, he was slated to appear as a guest speaker at other conferences around the country, including being the Guest of Honor at the International Conference for Fantastic in the Arts in Orlando, Florida in March 2023.
When the U.S. literary community heard that Ekpeki had been denied a visa and would have to cancel his appearances, a roster of Who’s Who rallied to his aid. The embassy received a barrage of emails and calls from big name authors (such as Neil Gaimen), respected organizations (such as the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America), a number of U.S. politicians, senators and ambassadors, plus petitions from U.S. fans. As a result, the embassy reversed its decision; an appeal was granted and the visa given.
Ekpeki will appear at the Galactic Philadelphia Salon at The Rosenbach on January 18th starting at 5:30 PM. Also reading that evening is another award-winning author, C.S.E. Cooney (csecooney.com). Admission includes a wine and cheese reception, tours of the library, and time to explore an exhibit of recent additions to The Rosenbach’s speculative fiction rare book collection. Galactic Philadelphia Salons are co-curated by award-winning authors Lawrence M. Schoen and Sally Wiener Grotta. Information and tickets available here.
About Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki: One of the rising literary stars, Ekpeki has won numerous honors for his work including the Nebula, Otherwise, BFA & World Fantasy awards and has been a finalist in the Hugo, Locus, BSFA and Sturgeon awards. His stories have appeared in Asimov’s, Uncanny Magazine, Tordotcom, and other publications. He co-edited (with Sheree Thomas and Zelda Knight) Africa Rising: A New Era of Speculative Fiction, a short story anthology which was on a number of Best Books of 2022 lists. Other anthologies he has edited include Bridging Worlds and Year’s Best African Speculative Fiction. He is a CanCon & ICFA 44 guest of honor. You can read his latest story here.
The Rosenbach creates unique experiences for broad audiences through programs inspired by its world-class holdings of literature and history. The Rosenbach is located in Center City Philadelphia and is open to the public with growing content available at all times on Rosenbach.org. The Rosenbach is affiliated with the Free Library of Philadelphia.