Yewande Omotoso

South African-based novelist

Yewande Omotoso (born 1980) is a South African-based novelist, architect and designer, who was born in Barbados and grew up in Nigeria. She is the daughter of Nigerian writer Kole Omotoso, and the sister of filmmaker Akin Omotoso. She currently lives in Johannesburg. Her two published novels have earned her considerable attention, including winning the South African Literary Award for First-Time Published Author, being shortlisted for the South African Fiction Prize, the M-Net Literary Awards 2012, and the 2013 Etisalat Prize for Literature, and being longlisted for the 2017 Bailey's Women's Prize for Fiction.


  • She understood what perhaps they are only just learning. That if you attempt to clean the messiness of life you end up scrubbing the life away from living. We can't excise joy from pain.
    • [1] Yewande Omotoso, in her book An Unusual Grief.
  • Coming from across cultures, I believe I mostly value difference as opposed to being threatened by it... Over time as I gain in knowledge and become braver I hope to set more stories solidly in Nigeria or Barbados but you cannot, as a writer, fake familiarity with a place – I don’t think so anyway.
    • [2] Yewande Omotoso on how her diverse background comes into her writings.
  • My mother died when I was 23, and apart from the recent birth of my children, that is the most profound experience of my life. The grief that followed is a sharp memory of mine and I’ve often joked that the experience irrevocably marked my writing.
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