16 Things You Didn’t Know About Author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is considered one of the Nigeria’s most prominent young authors, and now commands an international audience. Most recently, she made headlines upon the release of the film adaptation of her novel, “Half of a Yellow Sun,” as well as for the recent publication of her third novel, “Americanah.” As Adichie’s body of work grows, take a peek at her life: 16 things you didn’t know about author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.
Sources: Wikipedia.org, NYTimes.com, NPR.org, Ted.com, GradeSaver.com, ContemporaryLit.About.com, RapGenius.com, Bellanaija.com, Amazon.com, Theguardian.com, Ulg.ac.be
This article was first published Aug. 14, 2014.
She is Igbo
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie was born in Enugu, Nigeria, Sept. 15, 1977 to Igbo parents, James Nwoye Adichie and Grace Ifeoma. She is the fifth of six children, and they all grew up together in Nsukka. Her ancestors are from Anambra State.
She comes from a line of high-achieving women
Adichie’s mother was the first female registrar of the University of Nigeria, serving as head of the administrative section of the university. Her sister operates a medical practice in Coventry, Connecticut in the U.S.
Adichie was known to butt heads with her teachers growing up
Adichie’s strong personality would occasionally put her in conflict with teachers while she was growing up in Nsukka, Nigeria, near the University of Nigeria. Despite this, she remained an A student and received numerous academic awards.
She has become known as a fashion icon
Adichie’s mother was always very concerned about her daughter’s appearance, and instilled the same value in her children. When Adichie first burst onto the writing scene in the U.S., she tried to dress more subdued in an attempt to be taken seriously, but soon realized that her personal style needed to shine through.
She dropped out of medical school to pursue writing
Following her father’s wishes, Adichie enrolled in medical school in Nigeria, but dropped out at age 19 to attend Drexel University in Philadelphia on a scholarship. She ended up graduating from Eastern Connecticut State University with a degree in communication and political science.
She has three degrees
Adichie graduated summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree from Eastern Connecticut State University in 2001, and in 2003 walked away from Johns Hopkins University with a creative writing master’s. As if that wasn’t enough, she earned an additional master’s in African Studies from Yale in 2008.
She was inspired by Chinua Achebe
After reading Chinua Achebe’s “Things Fall Apart,” Adichie was inspired by seeing her own life represented in the pages. She once said, “I realized that people who looked like me could live in books.” Using that inspiration, Adichie has been writing about the Nigerian experience throughout her career.
She grew up in a house once owned by Achebe
Adichie and her family lived in a home in Nsukka that was once owned by Chinua Achebe, further strengthening the connection between the two Igbo literary legends. A Nigerian novelist, poet, professor, and critic, Achebe was best known for his first novel and magnum opus, “Things Fall Apart,” — the most widely read book in modern African literature. He died in 2013 in Boston, Massachusetts.
Her novel, “Half of a Yellow Sun,” derives its name from the Biafra flag
The novel, “Half of a Yellow Sun,” is set before and during the Biafran war, and its title reflects the flag of the short-lived independent nation. The film adaptation, directed by Biyi Bandele, stars Chiwetel Ejiofor (“12 Years a Slave”) and Thandie Newton.
The Nigerian government delayed the release of the film “Half of a Yellow Sun”
Due to the film’s depiction of violence that occurred during the Biafran War, the Nigerian government refused to issue the movie a certificate, essentially banning it and delaying its release. Worries arose about the film’s potential to incite violence, particularly in the country’s largely Christian south that is still home to a sizable Igbo independence movement.
She’s been shortlisted for awards
In 2002, Adichie was shortlisted for the Caine Prize for African Writing. She has also been lauded by the BBC Short Story Awards and the Commonwealth Broadcasting Association. Besides having her bestselling novels published, her work has appeared in the journals The Iowa Review and Zoetrope.
Her work has been sampled by Beyoncé
The visual album release for Beyoncé’s song, “Flawless,” in 2013, included an excerpt from a talk that Adichie gave at TEDxEuston in December 2012. The talk, entitled “We Should All be Feminists,” discussed the way women are raised and what it means to be a feminist. “We teach girls to shrink themselves, to make themselves smaller,” Adichie said. “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…’” Adichie defined a feminist as a person who believes in the social, political, and economic equality of the sexes.
“Americanah” is getting some great reviews
In March 2014, Adichie’s third novel, “Americanah,” beat out Pulitzer Prize winning author Donna Tartt’s “The Goldfinch” at the National Book Critics Circle Awards. The book seems to represent so many worlds–fashion, love, alienation, immigration, American-ness, Nigerian-ness–and was also put on the New York Times Best of 2013 list.
She is benevolently bored of the Beyoncé question
During a phone conversation with Vogue magazine in August 2014, Chimamanda was asked about Beyoncé’s sampling of her TED Talk, and this was her response: “I’m so bored by this question, but I will say that I’m happy that my 13-year-old niece calls herself a feminist—not because I made the speech, but because of Beyoncé. Having attained the status of ‘cool’ to my niece is wonderful.” (Bella Naija)
She was destined to become a writer
“I just write. I have to write,” she said at the Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Website. “I like to say that I didn’t choose writing, writing chose me. This may sound slightly mythical, but I sometimes feel as if my writing is something bigger than I am.”
She splits her time between Nigeria and the U.S.
Adichie is married to a Maryland-based doctor, and splits her time between the U.S. and her home in Nigeria. She continues to teach writing workshops in her home country, inspiring the next generation of writers.
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