Writer Profile: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is a prominent Nigerian author whose work has topped best-seller lists across the world. Adichie has written fiction, non-fiction and short stories, is frequently asked to speak at public events including giving inspiring TED talks, and has even been featured on a Beyoncé record.
Adichie’s writing makes for some of the most compelling contemporary literature out there, with fascinating characters, gripping storylines, and a distinctive voice that truly has something to say about the world we live in. Adichie does not shy away from complex and controversial topics, from race to feminism. Nonetheless, her work always has an abundance of humour and heart.
Here, we take a look at her three novels, from her debut, Purple Hibiscus to her most recent, Americanah.
Adichie’s first novel undoubtedly showcased her extraordinary promise as a writer when it was published in 2003. Adichie sets Purple Hibiscus in post-colonial Nigeria, where we follow fifteen-year-old, Kambili on her journey to maturity. Kambili is desperate to escape her unhappy family life, where everyone is ruled over by their abusive father, Eugene. Kambili comes out of her shell when she is able to stay with her aunt, Ifoema, though things later take a turn for the worse with Kambili’s own family. Purple Hibiscus explores the ties that bind families against the turbulent background of Post-Colonial Africa.
Once again returning to modern African history, in Half of a Yellow Sun Adichie explores the Biafran War. The novel follows five characters during the 1960s, when Biafra sought to establish an independent republic in Nigeria. Adichie weaves an intricate narrative whereby we see the world as it changes rapidly through the prism of each character’s unique experience, from the young houseboy, Ugwu, to zealous university professor, Odenigbo. In Half of a Yellow Sun, Adichie graciously flaunts her ability to create beautiful prose, and her skill in creating richly detailed worlds which never fail to draw the reader in.
Adichie’s most recent, and arguably most accomplished novel, Americanah takes an unflinching look at the migrant experience, race and feminism. The novel tells an epic love story which spans from Africa to North America and back. Following Ifemelu and her first love, Obinze, Americanah reminds us of the power of love to endure separation, politics and pain. The novel is a must-read for anyone who enjoys a brilliant story that also packs a punch thanks to the pointed observations it makes about our world today.
Featured Image by Chris Boland