Petina Gappah

© Eric Miller for the Open Society Foundations

Petina Gappah is a lawyer and writer from Zimbabwe. As an Open Society Fellow, she will survey the rising influence of Pentecostal churches in Africa and its effect on human rights, democracy, and social justice. Though she believes that Pentecostalism is often at odds with open society values, Gappah will examine how pro-rights activists can engage with Pentecostalism in order to mitigate its most harmful effects.  

Gappah’s first book, An Elegy for Easterly, a story collection, was published in 2009 and was shortlisted for the Orwell Prize, the LA Times First Book Award, Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award and Zimbabwe’s  NAMA  award.  It  won  the Guardian  First  Book  Award  that  same  year  and  has  since  been published  in  more  than  a  dozen  languages.  She holds law degrees from the University of  Zimbabwe, Cambridge University, and the University of Graz. Her short fiction and essays have been published in eight countries.