Nalo Hopkinson, associate professor of creative writing at the University of California, Riverside, has won the Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy for her 2013 novel “Sister Mine.”

The award was presented by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America at the Nebula Awards Weekend in San Jose on May 17. It recognizes how the fantastical contributes to children’s literature, and how children’s literature is a vital part of speculative fiction. It also helps to draw attention to future classics that might otherwise be overlooked.

Hopkinson said she was delighted and honored, and more than a little surprised, when “Sister Mine” was named the winner from among seven novels shortlisted for the prestigious award.

“Some of the more risky, honest writing can be found in young adult literature,” she said, although her novel was neither conceived of nor marketed as young adult fiction. “I was in the audience, live-tweeting the event and was in fact preparing to tweet the name of the Norton Award winner. When I heard my own name, I was completely unprepared.”

The award is richly deserved, said Andrew Winer, chair of the UCR Department of Creative Writing, where Hopkinson has been a member of the faculty since 2011.

“It’s a tribute to Nalo’s gifts as a novelist, and to her ability to bridge important gaps not only between genres but between cultures,” he said. “I also see it as a recognition that Nalo Hopkinson’s time has come — or, rather, the world has come to her, as it no doubt will continue to do. She’s offering it — the world — something it’s never quite seen before, and this is what the best writing does, of course.”

“Sister Mine” is the story of conjoined twins Makeda and Abby, the daughters of a demigod and a human woman. Their separation leaves Abby with a permanent limp and Makeda with no supernatural powers. Now adults, Makeda decides to leave the childhood home the sisters share and make a life for herself among humans with no magical powers. But when their father goes missing, the sisters find they must work together if they are to save him.

Born in Jamaica, Hopkinson often draws upon Caribbean history, language and story-telling traditions in her work. She received an M.A. in writing popular fiction from Seton Hill University. Her teaching specialty is creative writing, with a focus on the literatures of the fantastic such as science fiction, fantasy and magical realism.

She is currently working on “Blackheart Man,” a fantastical alternate history set in an imagined Caribbean. She recently received a University of California Institute for Research in the Arts Major Grant to begin work on “Nancy Jack,” a graphic novel, with her collaborator, visual artist John Jennings.
She is a recipient of the John W. Campbell Award, the World Fantasy Award, the Gaylactic Spectrum Award, and a two-time recipient of the Sunburst Award for Canadian Literature of the Fantastic. Her novel “Midnight Robber” received honorable mention in Cuba’s Casa de las Americas prize for literature written in Creole.