Ondjaki was born in Luanda, Angola in 1977. He studied in Lisbon, Portugal, and is the author of five novels, three short story collections and various books of poems and stories for children. He has also made a documentary film, May Cherries Grow, about his native city. His books have been translated into eight languages and have earned him major literary prizes in Angola, Portugal, France, and Brazil. In 2008, Ondjaki was awarded the Grinzane for Africa Prize in the category of Best Young Writer. In 2012, The Guardian named him one of its Top Five African Writers.