Tope Folarin

Posted in Past Guests

Tope Folarin headshot

Tope Folarin is a Nigerian-American writer based in Washington DC. He serves as the Lannan Visiting Lecturer in Creative Writing and the Director of the Institute for Policy Studies. He is the recipient of the Caine Prize for African Writing, the Whiting Award for Fiction, and a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, among other awards.

His reviews, essays and cultural criticism have been featured in The AtlanticThe Baffler, BBC, The DriftHigh Country News, LithubLos Angeles Review of BooksThe NationThe New RepublicThe New York Times Book ReviewVultureThe Washington Post and elsewhere.

He was educated at Morehouse College and the University of Oxford, where he earned two Masters degrees as a Rhodes Scholar. His debut novel, A Particular Kind of Black Man, was published by Simon & Schuster.

From Miracle

Our heads move simultaneously, and we smile at the tall, svelte man who strides purposefully down the aisle to the pulpit. Once there, he raises both of his hands then lowers them slightly. He raises his chin and says let us pray. “Dear Father, we come to you today, on the occasion of this revival, and we ask that you bless us abundantly, we who have made it to America, because we know we are here for a reason. We ask for your blessings because we are not here alone. Each of us represents dozens, sometimes hundreds of people back home. So many lives depend on us Lord, and the burden on our shoulders is great. Jesus, bless this service, and bless us. We ask that we will not be the same people at the end of the service as we were at the beginning. All this we ask of you, our dear savior, Amen.”

The pastor sits, and someone bolts from the front row to the piano and begins to play. The music we hear is familiar and at the same time new; the bandleader punches up a pre-programmed beat on the cheap electronic piano and plays a few Nigerian gospel songs to get us in the mood for revival. We sing along, though we have to wait a few moments at the beginning of each song to figure out what he’s playing. We sing joyful songs to the Lord, then songs of redemption, and then we sing songs of hope, hope that tomorrow will be better than today, hope that, one day soon, our lives will begin to resemble the dreams that brought us to America.

Continue reading “Miracle.”



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