Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  • Born: September 15, 1977
  • Nationality: Nigerian
  • Profession: Writer

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Americans think African writers will write about the exotic, about wildlife, poverty, maybe AIDS. They come to Africa and African books with certain expectations.
Creative writing programmes are not very necessary. They just exist so that people like us can make a living.
Each of my novels has come from a different place, and the processes are not always entirely conscious. I have lived off and on in America for a number of years and so have accumulated observations, found things interesting, been moved to tell stories about them.
I am a bit of a fundamentalist when it comes to black women's hair. Hair is hair - yet also about larger questions: self-acceptance, insecurity and what the world tells you is beautiful. For many black women, the idea of wearing their hair naturally is unbearable. Women
I am a person who believes in asking questions, in not conforming for the sake of conforming. I am deeply dissatisfied - about so many things, about injustice, about the way the world works - and in some ways, my dissatisfaction drives my storytelling.
I am drawn, as a reader, to detail-drenched stories about human lives affected as much by the internal as by the external, the kind of fiction that Jane Smiley nicely describes as 'first and foremost about how individuals fit, or don't fit, into their social worlds.'
I ask questions. I watch the world. And what I have discovered is that the parts of my fiction that people most tell me are 'unbelievable' are those that are most closely based on the real, those least diluted by my imagination.
I can write with authority only about what I know well, which means that I end up using surface details of my own life in my fiction. Life
I divide my time between Columbia, Maryland, and Lagos, Nigeria. Time
I find that women... deal with immigration differently. And I'm interested in that. Women
I have been writing since I was old enough to spell. I have never considered not writing.
I have my father's lopsided mouth. When I smile, my lips slope to one side. My doctor sister calls it my cerebral palsy mouth. I am very much a daddy's girl, and even though I would rather my smile wasn't crooked, there is something moving for me about having a mouth exactly like my father's.
I like the U.S. and feel gratitude towards it.
I live half the year in Nigeria, the other half in the U.S. But home is Nigeria - it always will be. I consider myself a Nigerian who is comfortable in the world. I look at it through Nigerian eyes.
I look young. I heard this said so often that it became irritating. I once worked as a babysitter for a woman who, the first time we met, said she didn't want somebody in high school. I was 22. Later, I realised that in certain places being female and looking 'young' meant it was more difficult to be taken seriously, so I turned to make-up. Time
I own things I like, but nothing inanimate that I treasure in a deeply consuming way.
I realized that I was African when I came to the United States. Whenever Africa came up in my college classes, everyone turned to me. It didn't matter whether the subject was Namibia or Egypt; I was expected to know, to explain.
I sort of consider myself a Nigerian who spends a lot of time in the U.S. Time
I think I'm ridiculously fortunate. I consider myself a Nigerian - that's home; my sensibility is Nigerian. But I like America, and I like that I can spend time in America. Time
I think it's possible to have been a happy child, as I was, and still question and push back with regard to societal conventions.
I would come, many years later, to understand why 'To Kill A Mockingbird' is considered 'an important novel', but when I first read it at 11, I was simply absorbed by the way it evoked the mysteries of childhood, of treasures discovered in trees, and games played with an exotic summer friend.
I write from real life. I am an unrepentant eavesdropper and a collector of stories. I record bits of overheard dialogue. Life
If I were not African, I wonder whether it would be clear to me that Africa is a place where the people do not need limp gifts of fish but sturdy fishing rods and fair access to the pond. I wonder whether I would realize that while African nations have a failure of leadership, they also have dynamic people with agency and voices. Failure ;Leaders & Leadership
If you followed the media you'd think that everybody in Africa was starving to death, and that's not the case; so it's important to engage with the other Africa. Death
In particular I want to talk about natural black hair, and how it's not just hair. I mean, I'm interested in hair in sort of a very aesthetic way, just the beauty of hair, but also in a political way: what it says, what it means.
In primary school in south-eastern Nigeria, I was taught that Hosni Mubarak was the president of Egypt. I learned the same thing in secondary school. In university, Mubarak was still president of Egypt. I came to assume, subconsciously, that he - and others like Paul Biya in Cameroon and Muammar Gaddafi in Libya - would never leave.
It is easy to romanticize poverty, to see poor people as inherently lacking agency and will. It is easy to strip them of human dignity, to reduce them to objects of pity. This has never been clearer than in the view of Africa from the American media, in which we are shown poverty and conflicts without any context.
Lasting love has to be built on mutual regard and respect. It is about seeing the other person. I am very interested in relationships and, when I watch couples, sometimes I can sense a blindness has set in. They have stopped seeing each other. It is not easy to see another person. Love, Romance, Marriage & Sex ;Respect
My greatest vanity is my skin. It is the colour of gingerbread and, thanks to my mother's genes, smooth and mostly blemish-free.
Nigerian politics has been, since the military dictatorships, largely non-ideological. Rather than a battle of ideas, it is about who can pump in the most money and buy the most access. Money, Coins & Minting ;Politics, Politicians & Political Campaigning & Fund Raising
'No Sweetness Here' is the kind of old-fashioned social realism I have always been drawn to in fiction, and it does what I think all good literature should: It entertains you.
Non-fiction, and in particular the literary memoir, the stylised recollection of personal experience, is often as much about character and story and emotion as fiction is.
Perhaps it is time to debate culture. The common story is that in 'real' African culture, before it was tainted by the West, gender roles were rigid and women were contentedly oppressed. Time ;Women
Sometimes novels are considered 'important' in the way medicine is - they taste terrible and are difficult to get down your throat, but are good for you.
Successful fiction does not need to be validated by 'real life'; I cringe whenever a writer is asked how much of a novel is 'real'. Life
The best novels are those that are important without being like medicine; they have something to say, are expansive and intelligent but never forget to be entertaining and to have character and emotion at their centre.
The problem with looking in the mirror is that you never know how you will feel about what you see. Sometimes, when my hormones are out of sync, I have no interest in the mirror, and if I do look I think everything is all wrong. Other times, I am quite pleased with what I see.
There has always been a strange dissonance between the public and the private in Nigeria.
What I find problematic is the suggestion that when, say, Madonna adopts an African child, she is saving Africa. It's not that simple. You have to do more than go there and adopt a child or show us pictures of children with flies in their eyes. That simplifies Africa.
While writing 'Half of a Yellow Sun,' I enjoyed playing with minor things: inventing a train station in a town that has none, placing towns closer to each other than they are, changing the chronology of conquered cities. Yet I did not play with the central events of that time. Time
You know, I don't think of myself as anything like a 'global citizen' or anything of the sort. I am just a Nigerian who's comfortable in other places.