Broken Places & Outer Spaces

Finding Creativity in the Unexpected (TED Books)
Narrated by: Nnedi Okorafor
Length: 2 hrs and 19 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (42 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

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 listener 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 guide 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.

©2019 Nnedi Okorafor (P)2019 Simon & Schuster

Critic Reviews

"Fans of Okorafor's Africanfuturist fiction will enjoy hearing her narrate her memoir and discovering some of the roots of her celebrated stories.... Writers looking for inspiration should seek out this audiobook, narrated with confidence by a masterful author." (AudioFile Magazine)

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Inspiring Story

Love Nnedi Okorafor’s stories so it was great to learn about her as a person and all that has shaped how she sees the world. Her battles with mobility and how she uses them to expand her vision and apply it to her craft were inspiring. A quick easy listen.

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Nnedi Okorafor - Khepera

Nnedi Okorafor is reborn like Khepera with help from the Ancestors (past and future), love, imagination and determination. It is great to hear the voice and mind of the author. Thanks Nnedi Okorafor.

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  • Michela
  • 03-21-20

The genesis of a writer in a memoir

The touching and inspiring story of the events that changed the author's life and the perception of who she was as well as her physical perceptions, and of how she faced and overcame all obstacles, or at least adapted and became more and better because of them, finding her calling and new strengths. Unmissable if you love Okorafor's work.