Lesley Lokko is an architect, academic, and best-selling novelist. She was previously the founder and director of the Graduate School of Architecture at the University of Johannesburg and will be stepping down as dean of The Bernard & Anne Spitzer School of Architecture, City College of New York in January 2021. She is currently engaged in setting up an independent school of architecture in Accra, Ghana, the African Futures Institute. Born in Scotland, Lesley grew up in Ghana. She received her first architecture degree at London’s Bartlett School of Architecture and earned her doctorate in architecture from the University of London in 2007.
Whilst still a student, Lesley began an edited anthology that has come to define her interests across both her academic career and her fiction writing: ‘race’ and its relationship to the built environment, although that initial interest has expanded considerably to encompass a broader interest in identity politics, culture and urbanism. White Papers, Black Marks: Race, Space & Architecture was published in 2000, some six years after its inception. It remains one of the few anthologies dedicated specifically to the study of ‘race’ as a meaningful category of enquiry within architectural canon.
For thirteen years, Lesley wrote fiction full-time, publishing eleven best-selling novels but continued to keep a peripheral interest and foot in architectural discourse, returning to academia full-time in 2014. She continues to write fiction: her newest novel, Soul Sisters, will be published by PanMacmillan in summer 2021.