Wayétu Moore

Children’s Literacy Advocate & Acclaimed Author

Wayétu Moore is a critically-acclaimed writer and activist. Liberia Connects dubbed her one of its “Top 10 Women of 2018,” and her debut novel She Would Be King, was named a best book of 2018 by Publishers Weekly, Booklist, Entertainment Weekly, and BuzzFeed. Her forthcoming memoir, The Dragons, The Giant, The Women, is her story of escaping the First Liberian Civil War and building a life in the United States. Moore is the founder of One Moore Book, a non-profit organization that creates and distributes culturally relevant books for underrepresented readers. Her writing can be found in The Paris Review, Frieze Magazine, Guernica, The Atlantic Magazine and other publications. She has been featured in The Economist, NPR, NBC, BET and ABC, among others, for her work in advocacy for diversity in children’s literature.

She Would be King, Moore’s powerful debut novel, is a dazzling retelling of Liberia’s formation inspired by her own heritage as an African-American from Liberia. It reimagines the dramatic story of Liberia’s early years through three unforgettable characters who share an uncommon bond. Moore’s intermingling of history and magical realism finds voice not just in these three characters but also in the fleeting spirit of the wind, who embodies an ancient wisdom. “If she was not a woman,” the wind says of Gbessa, “she would be king.”

Renowned memoirist Mary Karr hails The Dragons, The Giant, The Women, Moore’s memoir, as “elegant, inspired, page-turning… Destined to become a classic!” It recounts her family’s harrowing journey of escaping the First Liberian Civil War to the U.S. and her years adjusting to life in Texas as a black woman and an immigrant, and her eventual return to Liberia. The Dragons, the Giant, the Women is a deeply moving story of the search for home in the midst of upheaval. Moore shines a light on the great political and personal forces that continue to affect many immigrants around the world and calls us all to acknowledge the tenacious power of love and family.

Moore founded One Moore Book on the belief that art and literature should be accessible to children who are rarely represented in the children’s book publishing industry and should have books that they can relate to and learn from. One Moore Book is a proud member of the Children’s Book Council, a nonprofit trade association of North American children’s book publishers dedicated to supporting and informing the industry. One Moore Book publishes culturally relevant books that feature children of countries with low literacy rates and underrepresented cultures and the books serve as a key to unknown people and places for all children who do not have access to cultures outside of their own. One Moore Book also builds bookstores, libraries and reading corners that serve underrepresented groups. One Moore Book’s first bookstore opened in Monrovia, Liberia, in May 2015.

Wayétu Moore is a graduate of Howard University, University of Southern California and Columbia University. She is a founding faculty member of Randolph College MFA program and a 2019 Distinguished Visiting Writer at Syracuse University MFA.

Praise for The Dragons, The Giant, The Women: A Memoir

“Wayétu Moore has written an elegant, inspired, page-turning memoir I couldn’t put down. Destined to become a classic!”

―Mary Karr, New York Times best-selling author of The Liars’ Club

“A riveting narrative of survival and resilience and a tribute to the fierce love between parents and children.”

―Mary Laura Philpott, author of I Miss You When I Blink

“A propulsive, heart-rending memoir of love and war and peace. . . . The Dragons, The Giant, the Women is a major contribution to the new literature of African immigration.”

―Namwali Serpell, author of The Old Drift

Praise for She Would be King: A Novel

“Reading Wayétu Moore’s debut novel, She Would Be King, feels a lot like watching a superb athlete’’ performance. . . . Moore makes deft use of magical realism, and her plot and its details are compelling. . . . Like her remarkable protagonist Gbessa, the author has tapped into her own backstory and emerged with literary superpowers.”

Time

“This compelling debut novel by Wayétu Moore blends historical fiction with magical realism in an exhilarating tale of the formation of Liberia. Moore effortlessly weaves the threads of indigenous West African tribes, American and Caribbean slavery, and British colonialism together to tell the creation story of a new nation, complete with unforgettable characters and a dynamic voice.”

―Marie Claire

“Fans of Gabriel Garcia Marquez will be intrigued by this debut novel, a reimagining of Liberia’s infancy in the 19th century.”

―Harper’s Bazaar

“Moore’s insightful, emotional descriptions graft these stories right onto readers’ hearts.”

―BookPage

“The dialog is fluid and poetic, allowing readers to imagine the events, sights, smells, feelings, and sensations. As with Yaa Gyasi’s Homegoing, this work will appeal to lovers of African, African American, and literary fiction.”

Library Journal, starred review

“Moore uses an accomplished, penetrating style―with clever swerves into fantasy―to build effective critiques of tribal misogyny, colonial abuse, and racism.”

―Publishers Weekly

“An ambitious, genre-hopping, continent-spanning novel. . . . Moore is a brisk and skilled storyteller who weaves her protagonists’ disparate stories together with aplomb yet is also able to render her sprawling cast of characters in ways that feel psychologically compelling. In addition, the novel’s various settings―Virginia, Jamaica, and West Africa―are depicted so lushly that readers will find themselves enchanted.”

―Kirkus Reviews