Broken Places & Outer Spaces
A powerful journey from star athlete to sudden paralysis to creative awakening, award-winning science fiction writer Nnedi Okorafor shows that what we think are our limitations have the potential to become our greatest strengths.Nnedi Okorafor was never supposed to be paralyzed. A college track star and budding entomologist, Nnedi’s lifelong battle with scoliosis was just a bump in her plan—something a simple operation would easily correct. But when Nnedi wakes from the surgery to find she can’t move her legs, her entire sense of self begins to waver. Confined to a hospital bed for months, unusual things begin to happen. Psychedelic bugs crawl her hospital walls; strange dreams visit her nightly. Nnedi begins to put these experiences into writing, conjuring up strange, fantastical stories. What Nnedi discovers during her confinement would prove to be the key to her life as a successful science fiction author: In science fiction, when something breaks, something greater often emerges from the cracks. In Broken Places & Outer Spaces, Nnedi takes the reader on a journey from her hospital bed deep into her memories, from her painful first experiences with racism as a child in Chicago to her powerful visits to her parents’ hometown in Nigeria. From Frida Kahlo to Mary Shelly, she examines great artists and writers who have pushed through their limitations, using hardship to fuel their work. Through these compelling stories and her own, Nnedi reveals a universal truth: What we perceive as limitations have the potential to become our greatest strengths—far greater than when we were unbroken. A guidebook for anyone eager to understand how their limitations might actually be used as a creative springboard, Broken Places & Outer Spaces is an inspiring look at how to open up new windows in your mind.

Broken Places & Outer Spaces Details

TitleBroken Places & Outer Spaces
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseJun 18th, 2019
PublisherSimon Schuster/ TED
ISBN-139781501195471
Rating
GenreNonfiction, Autobiography, Memoir, Language, Writing, Biography

Broken Places & Outer Spaces Review

  • Gretchen Rubin
    January 1, 1970
    I love Okorafor's fiction, and was always curious to learn more about her life, so I was thrilled to get the chance to read this memoir. Short and powerful.
  • Britta Böhler
    January 1, 1970
    Some interesting thoughts on creativity but the book was way to short (112 pages) to develop any of them in depth.2.5*
  • Vanessa Halls
    January 1, 1970
    A quick and inspiring read. Okorafor's lush literary style is on full display, and every page packed a punch. It's not everyday you get such a brutally honest and intimate offering from one of your favorite authors, and not every author can produce nonfiction this lovely. I feel very privileged to have gotten to read this arc. It only cemented my certainty that Nnedi Okorafor is one of my favorite human beings on this planet.
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  • Christen
    January 1, 1970
    I fell in love with Binti last year. I honestly knew nothing about the author other than I should really read more of her stuff. I really enjoyed hearing Ms. Okorafor's stories of how and why she began telling her stories. I also appreciated the reference to related TED talks at the end of the book. This is a great story about resilience. Bad things happen to everyone, some things worse than others. Some things more lasting than others. I truly had never thought about how I know where my body is I fell in love with Binti last year. I honestly knew nothing about the author other than I should really read more of her stuff. I really enjoyed hearing Ms. Okorafor's stories of how and why she began telling her stories. I also appreciated the reference to related TED talks at the end of the book. This is a great story about resilience. Bad things happen to everyone, some things worse than others. Some things more lasting than others. I truly had never thought about how I know where my body is until I read about someone who does not know. I am glad it spurred her to write stories wondering "what if" about her characters. A very worthwhile and short read. Enjoy.
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  • Hannah
    January 1, 1970
    I listened to the audiobook version (read by the author) and I was actually shocked by how short it was: even shorter than novellas like Binti.If you are familiar with Nnedi Okorafor's fiction, there are lots of Easter eggs in here, - including the concept of treeing. For everyone else, in addition to a personal memoir about finding one's new calling (and college major!) against the backdrop of botched surgery, there are also references to pop culture like Kill Bill.I passed this one along to my I listened to the audiobook version (read by the author) and I was actually shocked by how short it was: even shorter than novellas like Binti.If you are familiar with Nnedi Okorafor's fiction, there are lots of Easter eggs in here, - including the concept of treeing. For everyone else, in addition to a personal memoir about finding one's new calling (and college major!) against the backdrop of botched surgery, there are also references to pop culture like Kill Bill.I passed this one along to my dad since two of his go-to subjects lately have been scoliosis devices and Kill Bill and he really needs to branch out more.I am also left wondering why giant insects haven't shown up more in her books I've read.
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  • Laura Hoffman Brauman
    January 1, 1970
    Nnedi Okorafor is an auto-buy author for me -- I love her work. This is a TED talk she did regarding her personal experiences when she was a college student and athlete and a surgery for scoliosis left her paralyzed. During the grueling experience of learning how to walk again and how to adapt to the reality of continuing issues with proprioception, she began to write as a way to cope -- and out of her broken place, she worked hard and developed an incredible ability to tell riveting stories.
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  • Marzie
    January 1, 1970
    Acclaimed author Nnedi Okorafor's moving account of her experience with paralysis following scoliosis surgery at nineteen sheds insight into so much of her work. From her love of insects to her frightening experiences with racism while growing up in Chicago, you can find traces of her experiences in her Akata Witch series and her Binti novella trilogy. A fascinating and poignant account of a life-defining, if terrifying, experience.
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  • Sierra
    January 1, 1970
    Love it.
  • Nicolas Lontel
    January 1, 1970
    Je suis super fan de Nnedi Okorafor, je crois que c'est une des écrivaines les plus brillantes en vie en ce moment (et une de mes préf., dans mon top 5 de tou·tes). Dès que j'ai su qu'elle écrivait un petit mémoire, je l'ai tout de suite commandé à la librairie et attendu· très longtemps sa sorti. Je n'ai pas vraiment regardé le résumé, je pensais simplement que ça allait parler de science-fiction.Je n'étais pas dans l'erreur, mais en fait, ce court mémoire est sur le récit d'une chirurgie média Je suis super fan de Nnedi Okorafor, je crois que c'est une des écrivaines les plus brillantes en vie en ce moment (et une de mes préf., dans mon top 5 de tou·tes). Dès que j'ai su qu'elle écrivait un petit mémoire, je l'ai tout de suite commandé à la librairie et attendu· très longtemps sa sorti. Je n'ai pas vraiment regardé le résumé, je pensais simplement que ça allait parler de science-fiction.Je n'étais pas dans l'erreur, mais en fait, ce court mémoire est sur le récit d'une chirurgie médiale a paralysé le bas de son corps alors qu'elle était jeune et comment cet accident à changé sa vie complètement du jour au lendemain. D'une personne super-athlétique qui était toujours sélectionnée dans les équipes sportives, qu'elle s'entraînait pour des championnats semi-professionnels de tennis, qu'elle dépassait pas mal tout le monde à la course (avec une mère qui avait failli faire les jeux olympiques si elle n'avait pas été malade!), en plus d'être super brillante dans les classes de science. Cependant, la procédure consistant en une "spinal fusion" avait 1% de chance de résulter en une paralyse ce qui est arriva pour Okorafor. À travers le récit, on a certes quelques éléments sur le fait d'être la seule famille noire dans un coin des États-Unis et le racisme qui venait avec (malgré des parents ayant tous deux des degrés universitaires et des professions dites prestigieuses), mais aussi de comment elle est passé d'une indifférence totale à Frankenstein et être plus fan d'horreur à, après son opération, se mettre à écrire de la science-fiction. Elle trace beaucoup de parallèle avec le comic pour Marvel, Venom, dans lequel elle crée une protagoniste en chaise roulante, mais dont le Venom lui permet une liberté de mouvement qu'elle ne connaissait pas.Okorafor explore beaucoup son aspect cyborg (surtout dans le futur) et les augmentations que lui permettent les prothèses en plus d'une nouvelle préhension sur le monde. Elle parle évidemment aussi beaucoup des liens entre magie et technologie (et beaucoup du Nigéria) donc les personnes qui la suivent sur Twitter reconnaîtront. Elle pousse aussi beaucoup pour effacer justement les frontières entre des conceptions, plus occidentales, qui paraissent opposés: magie/technologie, handicap/liberté, athlétisme/intelligence avec son propre parcours qui combine tout le temps les deux. C'est là un aspect de la vie d'Okorafor que je ne connaissais pas du tout (alors que je lis toujours tout ce que je peux sur elle et d'elle) et qu'on découvre en même temps qu'un récit optimiste sur la technologie et le handicap comme cocons d'expériences encore plus libératrices (sans en nier les difficultés inhérentes).
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  • Richard
    January 1, 1970
    You may hold this against me but I do not care to know about the private lives of authors, actors, or athletes that I follow. I focus on their work. What they do in their private lives does not effect me or my enjoyment of their work, unless they gain headlines by doing something totally egregious.I love Nnedi Okorafor’s writing. She combines science fiction with African history and culture in a unique and empowering way. Her characters work through their trials and come out better and stronger You may hold this against me but I do not care to know about the private lives of authors, actors, or athletes that I follow. I focus on their work. What they do in their private lives does not effect me or my enjoyment of their work, unless they gain headlines by doing something totally egregious.I love Nnedi Okorafor’s writing. She combines science fiction with African history and culture in a unique and empowering way. Her characters work through their trials and come out better and stronger in the end. They are all mentally tough - tried by fire and fused into steel.So, when Nnedi Okorafor published a book about her life and problems with scoliosis, surgery, and paralysis you would think that I would have passed it by. Instead I put in for an advance purchase of the Ebook, unable to wait for my library to get in a copy. I can only explain this by the fact that I have found Nnedi’s characters so powerful that I needed some insight into who their creator was and how she got that way.This is a very short book in number of pages but, like still waters, the story and message it contains runs very deep. It is a story of a young woman who is thrown one of life’s biggest curves, it is the about her pain and anger, it is about helpful friends and family, and it is about climbing out of a deep, deep well to emerge stronger and more self aware at the top. As Nnedi puts it, “as I grew older, and after my experience with paralysis opened my mind wider, I began to observe and understand more.” This is not a woman who made lemonade out of lemons but a woman who has merged two cultures into a series of science fiction books that are full of doubt, self-reflection, growth, struggle, and emergence. Her books are about not only pushing back at adversity but powering through it to emerge changed, better, and more powerful than ever.After reading this book I understand so much more about how Nnedi has come to be the writer that she is and how she is able to write the books that she does. Perhaps I will have to learn more about the lives of the powerful WNBA players that I follow, authors that I read, and the actors that I like. Maybe knowing more about them will help me to understand their works at a deeper level. This book certainly has given me some more insight and understanding of Nnedi’s creations and I highly recommend it.
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  • BookTrib.com
    January 1, 1970
    Living life with a disability is never easy, and Nnedi Okorafor paints an incredible picture of how difficult her life became after her surgery gone wrong. She was destined to be the next star athlete, the next best doctor. But being paralyzed was never a part of her plan.In Broken Places & Outer Spaces (TED Books), Nnedi uses imagery to create a beautiful portrait of her struggles throughout her life. With her family being from Africa and also being the first African-American family in her Living life with a disability is never easy, and Nnedi Okorafor paints an incredible picture of how difficult her life became after her surgery gone wrong. She was destined to be the next star athlete, the next best doctor. But being paralyzed was never a part of her plan.In Broken Places & Outer Spaces (TED Books), Nnedi uses imagery to create a beautiful portrait of her struggles throughout her life. With her family being from Africa and also being the first African-American family in her neighborhood, she endured countless moments of racism and bigotry. Nnedi shows exactly how she is one of the strongest people, despite the problems had to endure. Nnedi took her experiences and made them benefit her in any way she could. There was nothing else she could do but fight back with all her strength and show that she was better than the bullies in her path.The best part about this book is that it is entirely raw and emotional. Nnedi does not hold back from expressing exactly how she felt in the most difficult moments. She talks about her anger, hurt, and confusion. You can feel her emotions radiate right out of the page.Nnedi has to go through something that not everyone has to experience. She went in for routine surgery and came out with a worse problem than she had. Going from having scoliosis to being paralyzed seems like an awful trade-off, but Nnedi was able to keep hold of what little optimism she had left in order to persevere.The rest of the review: https://booktrib.com/2019/06/overcomi...
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  • Mary
    January 1, 1970
    Ms. Okorafor is one of my favorite authors. I've enjoyed her science fiction stories and when I learned that she had a book coming out talking about how she got started writing science fiction I went online and pre-ordered it. She writes about her journey as an athlete who has scoliosis and needs surgery to correct it. The surgery doesn't go well and her belief in science is shaken. Readers will learn that not only is Ms. Okorafor an amazingly talented writer but also so incredibly strong. Not j Ms. Okorafor is one of my favorite authors. I've enjoyed her science fiction stories and when I learned that she had a book coming out talking about how she got started writing science fiction I went online and pre-ordered it. She writes about her journey as an athlete who has scoliosis and needs surgery to correct it. The surgery doesn't go well and her belief in science is shaken. Readers will learn that not only is Ms. Okorafor an amazingly talented writer but also so incredibly strong. Not just in surviving but in the manner in which she deals with her life. The cover is not one that is eye-catching but I actually think it makes sense - the sparse, blue background with the clean font and that creative ampersand was definitely how I felt about her writing style which, at least to me, is indicative of her fiction as well: just enough words to pull you in, with a bit of style throughout.
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  • Nanette
    January 1, 1970
    Nnedi Okorafor is a fascinating woman, and this book explores her beginnings and growth as a writer. It's a quick read, and will be interesting to her fans as well as to readers who are interested in the creative process. Her resilience and determination are exceptional. My only (minor) quibble is that I wanted more, especially about the intersection of Nigerian culture with the science fiction worlds that she creates. She starts to touch on it toward the end of the book...and then the book ends Nnedi Okorafor is a fascinating woman, and this book explores her beginnings and growth as a writer. It's a quick read, and will be interesting to her fans as well as to readers who are interested in the creative process. Her resilience and determination are exceptional. My only (minor) quibble is that I wanted more, especially about the intersection of Nigerian culture with the science fiction worlds that she creates. She starts to touch on it toward the end of the book...and then the book ends.Also, I get way too excited when interesting people write about growing up in the southern suburbs of Chicago. I was hoping that I'd be able to pull out a "I was in the same room as Nnedi Okorafor when we were in high school..." but it's unlikely that it happened. Alas, no teenage-brush-with-future-greatness for me.
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  • Violeta
    January 1, 1970
    I hadn’t heard of Nnedi Okorafor before picking up this book, and I don’t normally read sci-fi, but I do often read medical-ish creative nonfiction, and that’s how this book came to my attention.Okorafor’s writing is fierce and beautifully other, particularly in the sections when she is writing about the pain and recovery she undergoes after a scoliosis correction surgery leaves her temporarily paralyzed.I only wished Broken Places, Outer Spaces had been longer, to dive more deeply into some of I hadn’t heard of Nnedi Okorafor before picking up this book, and I don’t normally read sci-fi, but I do often read medical-ish creative nonfiction, and that’s how this book came to my attention.Okorafor’s writing is fierce and beautifully other, particularly in the sections when she is writing about the pain and recovery she undergoes after a scoliosis correction surgery leaves her temporarily paralyzed.I only wished Broken Places, Outer Spaces had been longer, to dive more deeply into some of Okorafor’s sub-themes, and hear more about the second half of her creative evolution- her time in Nigeria.
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  • Nashwa
    January 1, 1970
    This was a confusing book to read. It was a mixture between personal essay and memoir; which is a style that didn't work for me at all. In my opinion, the book should have been longer, more developed in some of the themes and more detailed on Okarafor's creative processes.
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  • Amber
    January 1, 1970
    Okorafor is a wonderful writer. I recently enjoyed reading Some of her science fiction writing and was interested in learning more about her. Luckily she had also written this about her life. It’s an inspirational read.
  • Danielle
    January 1, 1970
    "What we perceive as limitations have the potential to become strengths greater than what we had when we were 'normal ' or unbroken.""It was because of and after the Breaking and my subsequent journey that I acquired this part of myself."
  • Maythinee Washington
    January 1, 1970
    Short, but sweet. A mini-memoir about recovery and self-discovery.
  • Ken Kaufman
    January 1, 1970
    Inspiring peek behind the curtain
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