Sarah Ladipo Manyika (born 7 March 1968) is an Anglo-Nigerian writer.
Sarah Manyika was born and raised in Nigeria. She has also lived in Kenya, France, and England. Her father is Nigerian and her mother is British. Sarah inherited her maiden name (Ladipo) from her father who was born in Ibadan (South-West Nigeria) in the late 1930s. Her father met and married her mother in the UK in the late 1960s. Sarah spent much of her childhood in Lagos and the city of Jos in Plateau State.
As a young teenager, she lived for two years in Nairobi, Kenya, before her family moved to the UK.
Manyika studied at the Universities of Birmingham (UK), Bordeaux (France), and Berkeley (California). She was married in Harare, Zimbabwe, in 1994 and now divides her time between San Francisco (where she teaches literature at San Francisco State University), London and Harare.
Her writing includes published essays, academic papers, book reviews and short stories. Her short story "Mr Wonder" appeared in the 2008 collection Women Writing Zimbabwe. Her first novel, In Dependence, was originally published by Legend Press, London, in 2008, and was chosen by the UK's largest bookstore chain as its featured book for Black History Month. In 2009, In Dependence, was published by Cassava Republic, a literary press based in Abuja, Nigeria (as well as, latterly, in the UK), with a stable of authors that includes Teju Cole and Helon Habila. Speaking of her decision to sign with an African publisher, Manyika has said: "I realized that by granting world rights to an African publisher I could, in a small way, attempt to address the imbalance of power in a world where the gatekeepers of literature, even for so-called African stories, remain firmly rooted in the west." In 2014, In Dependence was published by Weaver Press in Zimbabwe, where it is a set book for the Advanced-Level English Literature examination.
Her second novel, Like A Mule Bringing Ice Cream To The Sun, on publication in spring 2016 was endorsed by many other writers, including Bernardine Evaristo ("Manyika’s story about an elderly Nigerian woman is quiet, sophisticated and it expands the canon of contemporary African literature into welcome new territory"), Aminatta Forna ("gorgeous and finely crafted...Sarah Manyika’s novel shows ordinary people at their best. Uplifting!"), NoViolet Bulawayo ("Astute, sensual, funny, and moving"), Jamal Mahjoub ("Manyika writes with great verve and gentle wit, illuminating her characters with subtle insight"), Peter Orner ("A beautiful, important new novel, and one that will continue to echo in a reader’s mind for a long time after"), E. C. Osondu ("unforgettable...a powerful meditation on loss, memory, exile and loneliness. The characters in this novel will stay with you"), and Brian Chikwava ("A wonderfully constructed novel, always surprising"). It was shortlisted in September 2016 for the Goldsmiths Prize (alongside books by Rachel Cusk, Deborah Levy, Eimear McBride, Mike McCormack and Anakana Schofield), "the first African novel to be considered for this prize", which was set up to reward fiction that breaks the mould or extends the possibilities of the novel form. Of the genesis for Like a Mule Bringing Ice Cream to the Sun Manyika has said: "I’ve met many older women who have lived colourful lives, and yet when it comes to fiction I don’t find many stories that mirror this, especially so when it comes to the lives of black women. When I cannot find stories that I'd like to read, I try writing them for myself." The novel's title is an acknowledged line from a poem by Mary Ruefle called "Donkey On".
- In Dependence (Legend Press, 2008; Cassava Republic Press, 2009)
- Like A Mule Bringing Ice Cream To The Sun (Cassava Republic, 2016, ISBN 978-1-911-11504-5)
- "Mr Wonder" in Women Writing Zimbabwe (Weaver Press, 2008)
- "Modupe" in African Love Stories (Ayebia Clarke Publishing Ltd, 2006)
- "Girlfriend" in Fathers & Daughters (Ayebia Clarke Publishing Ltd, 2008)
- "Oyinbo" in Prolematizing Blackness (Routledge, 2003)
- "Coming of Age in the Time of the Hoodie", Guernica, 23 June 2015.
- "Betting on Africa", Brittle Paper, 28 March 2016.
- Ph.D. Programs in African Universities: Current Status and Future Prospects. Report to the Rockefeller Foundation. Co-authored with David Szanton (University of Berkeley, California, 2002).