Culture & Lifestyle
Published September 24, 2021

New York Times Best-Selling Author Ibi Zoboi Takes Okoye to America in 'Okoye to the People'

The YA novel arrives March 2022!

Next Spring, New York Times best-selling author and National Book Award Finalist Ibi Zoboi joins the Marvel Universe with a heartfelt novel that takes Okoye to America for the very first time in Okoye to the People.

In this fish-out-of-water story, Zoboi combines the high-stakes adventure of the world of the Black Panther with the grounded and real-world challenges that bring her work to life. Okoye to the People hits shelves on March 1, 2022everywhere books are soldPre-order now!

Okoye to the People

Before she became a multifaceted warrior and the confident leader of the Dora Milaje, Okoye was adjusting to her new life and attempting to find her place in Wakanda’s royal guard. Initially excited to receive an assignment for her very first mission and trip outside Wakanda, Okoye discovers that her status as a Dora Milaje means nothing to New Yorkers.

When she meets teenagers not much younger than herself struggling with the gentrification of their beloved Brooklyn neighborhood, her expectations for the world outside her own quickly fall apart. As she gets to know the young people of Brownsville, Okoye uncovers the truth about the plans of a manipulative real-estate mogul pulling all the strings―and how far-reaching those secret plans really are.

Caught between fulfilling her duty to her country and listening to her own heart urging her to stand up for Brownsville, Okoye must determine the type of Dora Milaje―and woman―she wants to be. had the opportunity to speak with Ibi Zoboi about the upcoming Okoye to the People! What is your Marvel origin story?

Ibi Zoboi: As a science fiction fan, I'd visit New York City's Forbidden Planet quite often. I own the first volumes of the Black Panther comics. But before that, it was Wesley Snipes as Blade. Marvel fans know Okoye as one of Wakanda’s greatest warriors in the Dora Milaje – loyal to her King and Wakanda. What can you tell us about the young Okoye we meet in Okoye to the People?

Ibi Zoboi: Young Okoye is a warrior in the making. She still has lessons to learn about herself and her place in the world. She wants to prove to both Ayo and King T'Chaka that she is worthy of her noble position, but she has her own mind. She observes things that are not quite right in Brownsville. Okoye is in a position of immense power to help these teens out, but she is loyal to the Wakandan throne.

Ultimately, she has to decide what and who she is fighting for outside of Wakanda's borders. Okoye has self-doubt, big questions about the world, and is trying to understand where Wakanda fits into all of it. The teens, who are not much younger than her, force her to contend with herself in order to become a true Dora Milaje. What conflict will she meet in your novel?

Ibi Zoboi: This is a fish-out-of-water story and Okoye is forced to see the world with new eyes. What does it mean to be loyal to Wakanda and all that it represents when there is so much suffering around the world, specifically in this Brooklyn neighborhood? All the things that make Okoye a warrior are tested in Brownsville—her honesty, her sense of fairness. The teens in Brownsville demand more of her, and she wants to help, but at what cost. Brownsville needs to be protected, but so does Wakanda. What drew you to the character of Okoye?

Ibi Zoboi: I'm Haitian American, and I've known about the Dahomey Amazon women warriors. I've also known about Queen Nzinga, Yaa Asantewaa, Anacaona, and Queen Nanny of the Maroons—warrior women who fought for their people. It was a no-brainer for me to write about Okoye. She's fierce, yet gentle; immensely loyal to her people, and has a deep sense of pride. How did you bring your lived experience into this story (I saw that you’ve been recognized for your community-based programs for teen girls in Brooklyn and Haiti and the story takes Okoye to Brooklyn)?

Ibi Zoboi: I wanted to bring a fiction super hero to some of the forgotten places I've lived in, places that could truly use some real-life heroes. I also didn't want to erase the people on the ground who are doing some heroic work. In OKOYE TO THE PEOPLE, we meet a local politician and community organizer who is overpowered by a more sinister personality and she needs help. There are teens who are also advocating for their community and this was inspired by the real-life teens I know, both in Haiti and in Brooklyn. I created a cultural exchange program in the form of a collection of poetry where teen girls in Haiti and in Brooklyn are in conversation. I brought that experience to OKOYE TO THE PEOPLE. What would a warrior teen in Wakanda have to say about vocal and politically active teens in Brooklyn? What do you hope young readers take away from the story?

Ibi Zoboi: This is a fun book simply because we already know what Okoye will bring to the table. There's a villain and a hero, but there are smaller villains and heroes that we don't always recognize who is fighting the ultimate battle of good and evil. While many of us don't own a —Vibranium spear or can drop-kick like Okoye, we can still take those Dora Milaje principles of bravery, loyalty, and honesty into everything we do. 

Okoye to the People hits shelves, everywhere books are sold, on March 1, 2022!

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