Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (b. 1977) is a Nigerian literary writer and feminist best known for her books Purple Hibiscus (2003), Half of a Yellow Sun (2006), Americanah (2013), and her TEDX Talk on feminism. Her work delves into the themes of politics, culture, race, and gender although she does not consider herself a political writer.
Early Life and Background
Adichie was born in Enugu, Nigeria on 15 September 1977 to Igbo parents, Grace Ifeoma and James Nwoye Adichie, both professors at the University of Nigeria. Adichie grew up on the university campus at Nsukka, the same house where Chinua Achebe had once lived, however, her family’s ancestral home is Abba in Anambra State. Chimamanda completed her secondary education at the University of Nigeria’s in-house school and continued on to pursue medicine and pharmacy at the same institution for a year and a half. There, she edited The Compass, a magazine run by the university’s Catholic medical students. At 19, Chimamanda left for the United States to study communications on a scholarship at Drexel University for 2 years. By age 21, Adichie had already published two books: a collection of poetry, Decisions (1997), and a play, For Love of Biafra (1998).
Thereafter, Adiche transferred to Eastern Connecticut State University to study communications and political science, graduating summa cum laude in 2001. While at Eastern Connecticut State University, Adichie wrote articles for the university journal, the Campus Lantern. During her senior year at Eastern Connecticut State, she began work on her first novel, Purple Hibiscus, which was shortlisted for the Orange Fiction Prize (2004) and won the Commonwealth Writers' Prize for Best First Book (2005).
From 2005 to 2006, Chimamanda was a Hodder fellow at Princeton University and later at the Radcliffe Institute of Harvard University for the academic year 2011 to 2012. In 2008, she was a part of the MacArthur Fellowship (also known as the “Genius Grant”), and earned an Masters in African Studies from Yale University in 2008. Her Master’s thesis was entitled 'The Myth of "Culture": Sketching the History of Igbo Women in Precolonial and Colonial Nigeria’. She later read a Master’s Degree in Creative Writing from Johns Hopkins University in 2003.
In her novels, Adiche tackles Nigeria's socio-economic challenges and the various challenges Nigerians in the diaspora face, particularly as immigrants to the United States, through the eyes of female protagonists. Adichie’s work has helped to broaden the scope of African literature and has inspired a new generation of writers around the worrld. In addition to her novels, Chimamanda also delivered two popular TEDx talks. The most famous TEDX Talk she has delivered is “We Should All Be Feminists” which has been viewed over 7 million times on YouTube and has been published as a book under the same in 2014. An extract of her speech from the TEDx talk notably featured in Beyonce’s song “Flawless” (2013). Moreover, in 2015 the “Swedish Women’s Lobby”, an independent organisation for the Swedish women’s movement, started a campaign to distribute copies of the book to all high-school students in Sweden.
Adichie now divides her time between the United States and Nigeria, where she leads an annual creative writing workshop. Her most recent work, Notes On Grief, an essay about losing her father, was published in 2021.