Olufemi Terry was born in Sierra Leone but grew up in Nigeria, the United Kingdon and the Cote d’Ivoire and studied at a university in New York before becoming a journalist in both Somalia and Uganda. He now lives in Stuttgart, Germany. He received an MA in Creative Writing at the University of Cape Town in 2008.
On 5 July 2010, Terry won the Caine Prize for African Writing, ahead of such other African writers as Ken Barris (South Africa), Lily Mabura (Kenya), Namwali Serpell (Zambia), and Alex Smith (South Africa). Judges chair and literary editor with The Economist Fiammetta Rocco, said: “Ambitious, brave and hugely imaginative, Olufemi Terry’s ‘Stickfighting Days’ presents a heroic culture that is Homeric in its scale and conception. The execution of this story is so tight and the presentation so cinematic, it confirms Olufemi Terry as a talent with an enormous future.”
Terry said he was “overwhelmed for at least the first hour” He received his prize of £10,000 in London. He also spent a month in residence at Georgetown University in the United States.
Terry writes about the African diaspora. However, he believes it is “unhelpful” to view African writers as a unique grouping of their own, saying to the BBC’s World Today “There is a danger in seeking authenticity in African writing”. He says the Caine Prize would be useful as it would assist in the publication of his debut novel, called ‘The Sum of All Losses’. Terry published a second short story, an exploration of isolation set in Cape Town. ‘Digitalis Lust’ was published in the Caine Prize’s 8th annual collection, Jambula Tree. ‘Lamu Squat’, another short story written, in 2006, by Terry, and set in Lamu, Kenya, was published in the online magazine Guernica in early March, 2011.