Jamaica-born writer is first Black woman to win Damon Knight Grand Master Award

Nalo Hopkinson

Jamaica-born Nalo Hopkinson was last month named Damon Knight Grand Master,a lifetime achievement honour presented annually by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.

As the first Black woman to receive one of science fiction writing’s most prestigious awards, Nalo Hopkinson says she takes a “joyful” responsibility in her work.

She is the author of everal award–winning books, including Brown Girl in the Ring and The New Moon’s Arms.

Hopkinson said she grew up reading books from Homer’s Iliad and The Odyssey, to folktale collections. 

“I’ve always read something that had some element of the fantastical in it because for me, it lifted it out of the ordinary in a way I found very appealing,” she said. 

But it wasn’t until she happened upon an anthology by students of the Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers’ Workshop that Hopkinson decided to take up writing as a hobby.

Hopkinson later moved from Jamaica to Canada. where she met the late Toronto-based U.S. writer Judith Merril, who helped her passion blossom into a career by helping her to set up her own writing workshop.

The 60-year-old Janauican  Canadian writer is a professor of creative writing at the University of California Riverside.