Writer Spotlight: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is a prominent author of African literature.  She was born in Nigeria, lives in America, but continues to go between the two  countries

teaching writing workshops in Nigeria.  Adichie’s novels have been translated into 30 languages and she has won various prestigious awards for her work.

Her first novel, Purple Hibiscus (2003), received wide critical acclaim; it was shortlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction (2004) and was awarded the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best First Book (2005).

Her second novel, Half of a Yellow Sun (2006), named after the flag of the short-lived nation of Biafra, is set before and during the Biafran War. It was awarded the 2007 Orange Prize for Fiction.

Her third book, The Thing Around Your Neck (2009), is a collection of short stories.
In 2010 she was listed among the authors of The New Yorker′s “20 Under 40” Fiction Issue.[6] Adichie’s story, “Ceiling”, was included in the 2011 edition of The Best American Short Stories.

In 2013 she published her fourth novel, Americanah. (wikipedia)  All blurbs are from GoodReads.

Purple HibiscusPurple Hibiscus

The limits of fifteen-year-old Kambili’s world are defined by the high walls of her family estate and the dictates of her fanatically religious father. Her life is regulated by schedules: prayer, sleep, study, prayer.  When Nigeria is shaken by a military coup, Kambili’s father, involved mysteriously in the political crisis, sends her to live with her aunt. In this house, noisy and full of laughter, she discovers life and love – and a terrible, bruising secret deep within her family.  This extraordinary debut novel from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, author of Half of a Yellow Sun, is about the blurred lines between the old gods and the new, childhood and adulthood, love and hatred – the grey spaces in which truths are revealed and real life is lived. (GoodReads)

Half of a Yellow SunHalf of a Yellow Sun

With astonishing empathy and the effortless grace of a natural storyteller, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie weaves together the lives of three characters swept up in the turbulence of the decade. Thirteen-year-old Ugwu is employed as a houseboy for a university professor full of revolutionary zeal. Olanna is the professor’s beautiful mistress, who has abandoned her life of privilege in Lagos for a dusty university town and the charisma of her new lover. And Richard is a shy young Englishman in thrall to Olanna’s twin sister, an enigmatic figure who refuses to belong to anyone. As Nigerian troops advance and the three must run for their lives, their ideals are severely tested, as are their loyalties to one another.  Epic, ambitious, and triumphantly realized, Half of a Yellow Sun is a remarkable novel about moral responsibility, about the end of colonialism, about ethnic allegiances, about class and race—and the ways in which love can complicate them all. Adichie brilliantly evokes the promise and the devastating disappointments that marked this time and place, bringing us one of the most powerful, dramatic, and intensely emotional pictures of modern Africa that we have ever had. (GoodReads)

The Thing Around Your NeckThe Thing Around Your Neck

In “A Private Experience,” a medical student hides from a violent riot with a poor Muslim woman whose dignity and faith force her to confront the realities and fears she’s been pushing away. In “Tomorrow is Too Far,” a woman unlocks the devastating secret that surrounds her brother’s death. The young mother at the center of “Imitation” finds her comfortable life in Philadelphia threatened when she learns that her husband has moved his mistress into their Lagos home. And the title story depicts the choking loneliness of a Nigerian girl who moves to an America that turns out to be nothing like the country she expected; though falling in love brings her desires nearly within reach, a death in her homeland forces her to reexamine them.  Searing and profound, suffused with beauty, sorrow, and longing, these stories map, with Adichie’s signature emotional wisdom, the collision of two cultures and the deeply human struggle to reconcile them. The Thing Around Your Neck is a resounding confirmation of the prodigious literary powers of one of our most essential writers. (GoodReads)

AmericanahAmericanah

As teenagers in a Lagos secondary school, Ifemelu and Obinze fall in love. Their Nigeria is under military dictatorship, and people are leaving the country if they can. Ifemelu—beautiful, self-assured—departs for America to study. She suffers defeats and triumphs, finds and loses relationships and friendships, all the while feeling the weight of something she never thought of back home: race. Obinze—the quiet, thoughtful son of a professor—had hoped to join her, but post-9/11 America will not let him in, and he plunges into a dangerous, undocumented life in London.  Years later, Obinze is a wealthy man in a newly democratic Nigeria, while Ifemelu has achieved success as a writer of an eye-opening blog about race in America. But when Ifemelu returns to Nigeria, and she and Obinze reignite their shared passion—for their homeland and for each other—they will face the toughest decisions of their lives.  Fearless, gripping, at once darkly funny and tender, spanning three continents and numerous lives, Americanah is a richly told story set in today’s globalized world: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s most powerful and astonishing novel yet. (GoodReads)

Adichie recently gave an interview to the Boston Review surrounding her newly released novel Americanah and Aaron Bady had this to say about Adichie and Americanah:

“By the end of the interview, I understood something about her new novel that I don’t think I could have learned without meeting her. Like its author, Americanah can be painfully blunt, but it’s never unkind, never purposefully hurtful. And it’s meant to be funny. If she touches on uncomfortable topics—racial tension between Africans and African Americans, for example, or the silliness of white people—she does so without judgment, only deep and careful interest in the things that human beings do. She writes to understand and empathize. But most of all, she wrote this book for herself, because she wanted to write a love story about hair and race and visa applications, about Nigerians in America. She wanted to write a novel that was a little bit light-hearted, as un-serious and trivial and overloaded with superfluities as life itself. And because it is the novel she wanted to write, she doesn’t mind that much if you don’t find it funny. That’s up to you. Her job was just to write it.”

Read the full interview and get a closer look at the person behind these novels.

The official Chimamanda Adichie website: http://chimamanda.com/

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