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Biography of Chimamanda NGOZI ADICHIE

Nigeria > Literature : Chimamanda NGOZI ADICHIE

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Born on 15/09/1977 (format : day/month/year)

Biography :

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (b. September 15, 1977), is a gifted Nigerian novelist .A young novelist who illuminates the complexities of human experience in works inspired by events in her native Nigeria. Adichie explores the intersection of the personal and the public by placing the intimate details of the lives of her characters within the larger social and political forces in contemporary Nigeria. Dividing her time over the last decade between the United States and Nigeria, she is widely appreciated for her stark yet balanced depiction of events in the post-colonial era

In 2007 Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie won the Orange Broadband Prize for Fiction for her second novel, Half of a Yellow Sun (2006). The young novelist, who stated that she had been writing stories since she was old enough to spell, was no stranger to the awards podium, however. She had already collected a number of honours for her short stories that have appeared in such publications as the New Yorker, Granta, and the Virginia Quarterly Review., iShe won an  an O. Henry Prize in 2003 for The American Embassy, and her debut novel, Purple Hibiscus (2003), had garnered the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize in 2005 for Best First Book (Africa) and that year’s Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and the Hurston /Wright Legacy Award for Best First Book (overall).

Early in life Adichie, the fifth of six children, moved with her parents to Nsukka, Nigeria. She was a voracious reader but found Things Fall Apart by fellow Igbo novelist Chinua Achebe transformative. After studying medicine for a time in Nsukka, in 1997 she left for the U.S., and she graduated (2001) summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in communication and political science from Eastern Connecticut State University. Splitting her time between Nigeria and the U.S., she later earned a master’s degree in creative writing from Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Md., and studied African history at Yale University.

In 1998 Adichie’s play For Love of Biafra was published in Nigeria. She later dismissed it as “an awfully melodramatic play,” but it was among the earliest works in which she explored the war in the late 1960s between Nigeria and its secessionist Biafra republic. She later wrote several short stories about that conflict, which would become the subject of Half of a Yellow Sun.

Adichie began writing Purple Hibiscus while a student at Eastern Connecticut. Set in Nigeria, it is the coming-of-age story of Kambili, a 15-year-old whose family is wealthy and well-respected but is terrorized by her fanatically religious father. Besides winning Commonwealth Prizes, the work was short-listed for the 2004 Orange Prize.

Half of a Yellow Sun was the result of four years of research and writing. It was built primarily on the experiences of her parents during the Nigeria-Biafra war. The result was an epic novel that vividly depicted the savagery of the war (which resulted in the displacement and deaths of perhaps a million people) but did so by focusing on a small group of characters, mostly middle-class Africans. Although Half of a Yellow Sun became an international best seller, Adichie told the BBC that its reception in Nigeria was especially important. Biafra “is a subject that we are not honest about,” she said of her fellow Nigerians. “What I hope this book will do…is get us to examine our history and ask questions.” For her next project, Adichie planned to explore the experience of Nigerian immigrants in the U.S.

In 2008, she has been awarded the MacArthur Foundation fellowships, popularly known as "genius grants", which come with an obligation-free annual grant of $100,000 for a five-year period (500.000 dollars).Her collection of short stories, The Thing around Your Neck, was published in 2009.

In 2009 she said that her next major literary project will focus on the Nigerian immigrant experience in the United States. In 2010 she was listed in The New Yorker's "20 Under 40" Fiction Issue.

Adichie's latest book, Americanah, is a love story as well as an exploration of modern life in both Nigeria and the United States. The main characters are Ifemulu and Obinze, who first fall in love when they meet in high school in Nigeria. They lose touch when Ifemulu goes to the United States to study, but eventually meet again. she divides her time between the United States and Nigeria. Her novel, Half of of a Yellow Sun, was recently adapted into a movie directed by Biyi Bandele and starring Chiwetel Ejiofor; and Americanah was just optioned for film by Academy Award-winner Lupita Nyong'o.


 We should all be feminist

We teach girls to shrink themselves, to make themselves smaller. We say to girls 'You can have ambition, but not too much'."

The novelist's intervention comes during the track ***Flawless, appearing as a series of samples from her impassioned TEDxEuston talk, "We should all be feminists".

During the speech, the Orange prize-winning author argues that differing expectations of men and women damage economic and social prospects in Nigeria, and more generally around Africa and the world.

Beyoncé has been particularly inspired by sections where Adichie explores attitudes towards marriage, sampling a passage where the novelist talks directly about aspirations.

"We teach girls to shrink themselves, to make themselves smaller. We say to girls, 'You can have ambition, but not too much. You should aim to be successful, but not too successful. Otherwise you will threaten the man.' Because I am female, I am expected to aspire to marriage. I am expected to make my life choices always keeping in mind that marriage is the most important. Now marriage can be a source of joy and love and mutual support. But why do we teach girls to aspire to marriage and we don’t teach boys the same? We raise girls to see each other as competitors – not for jobs or for accomplishments, which I think can be a good thing, but for the attention of men. We teach girls that they cannot be sexual beings in the way that boys are. Feminist: the person who believes in the social, political and economic equality of the sexes"


One of question she answered exclusively for readers.

7. What book had the biggest impact on you? Why?

Camara Laye's The Dark Child and Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart because they gave me a glorious shock of recognition. Until I read them, I was not consciously aware that people who looked like me could exist in books. I grew up in a Nigerian university town, and all the books I read before then were foreign children's books with white characters doing unfamiliar things.



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Last update : 11/23/2015

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