As an actor, Omar Epps has shown his range, playing a basketball star, a doctor and a dangerous stalker among his many memorable roles. And now, he’s getting into the literary game with his first work of fiction.
In the follow-up to his 2018 memoir, “From Fatherless to Fatherhood,” Epps’ latest book, “Nubia: The Awakening,” is a YA fantasy novel co-written along with Clarence A. Haynes. The book drops November 8.
The book centers around three teenagers, Zuberia, Uzochi and Lencho, forced to leave Nubia, their West African homeland, after a storm destroys it. Their families look to rebuild their lives in New York City. But the city, ruined by climate change and class conflict, isn’t exactly the most welcoming place to start over.
In New York, Nubians are second-class citizens. And they are confined to lower Manhattan, where it floods on the regular. Meanwhile, rich people live in a technologically advanced part of the city known as the Up High. (Kinda sounds a little like real life, huh?)
But when the teens develop supernatural powers, influential people in the Up High want to find a way to harness those powers for their personal benefit. And the teens are forced to choose whether or not they use their powers to help their people.
Epps, who is also a father of three, says he’s had the idea for his novel for a while and is glad to finally be able to share the final product with young readers. “The idea of ‘Nubia: The Awakening’ came to me over ten years ago,” he said. “It started with an idea based around the actuality of love. That evolved into a story about unity and the beauty of a world where every person’s differences are not only unique but serve a purpose.”
Nubia touches on a variety of themes, including social class disparity, race, sexuality and the environment. And as Epps told The Root, building a futuristic dystopian world was no easy feat. “It was really hard because I’m a creative, and ideas start out simple. But the more you go down the rabbit hole, it becomes a very layered and complex thing. But I think we created a universe that I think you guys are going to really enjoy,” he said.