Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Adichie, Fairfax, 2013
Born (1977-09-15) 15 September 1977
Enugu, Enugu State, Nigeria
Occupation Novelist, short story writer, nonfiction writer
Nationality Nigerian
Ethnicity Igbo
Period 2003–present
Notable works Purple Hibiscus
Half of a Yellow Sun
Notable awards MacArthur Fellowship (2008)
Spouse Ivara Esege
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's voice
from the BBC programme Front Row, 3 May 2013.[1]

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie talks about The Thing Around Your Neck on Bookbits radio.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (i/ˌɪmɑːˈmɑːndə əŋˈɡzi ʌˈdɪər/;[note 1] born 15 September 1977) is a Nigerian novelist, nonfiction writer and short story writer.[2] A MacArthur Genius Grant recipient, Adichie has been called "the most prominent" of a "procession of critically acclaimed young anglophone authors [that] is succeeding in attracting a new generation of readers to African literature".[3]

Personal life and education

Adichie, who was born in the city of Enugu, grew up the fifth of six children in an Igbo family in the university town of Nsukka. Nsukka is in Enugu State, southeast Nigeria, where the University of Nigeria is situated. While she was growing up, her father, James Nwoye Adichie, was a professor of statistics at the university, and her mother, Grace Ifeoma, was the university's first female registrar.[4] Her family's ancestral village is in Abba in Anambra State.[5]

Adichie studied medicine and pharmacy at the University of Nigeria for a year and a half. During this period, she edited The Compass, a magazine run by the university's Catholic medical students. At the age of 19, Adichie left Nigeria for the United States to study communications and political science at Drexel University in Philadelphia. She soon transferred to Eastern Connecticut State University to be near her sister, who had a medical practice in Coventry. She received a bachelor's degree from Eastern, with the distinction of summa cum laude in 2001.

In 2003, she completed a master's degree in creative writing at Johns Hopkins University. In 2008, she received a Master of Arts degree in African studies from Yale University.

Adichie was a Hodder fellow at Princeton University during the 2005–06 academic year. In 2008 she was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship.[6] She has also been awarded a 2011–12 fellowship by the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University.

Adichie divides her time between Nigeria, where she teaches writing workshops, and the United States.[7] In 2016, she was conferred an honorary degree - Doctor of Humane letters, honoris causa, by Johns Hopkins University.[8][9]

She revealed in a 2 July 2016 interview with the Financial Times that she had a baby daughter.[10]

Writing career

Adichie published a collection of poems in 1997 (Decisions) and a play (For Love of Biafra) in 1998. She was shortlisted in 2002 for the Caine Prize[11] for her short story "You in America".[12]

In 2003, her story "That Harmattan Morning" was selected as a joint winner of the BBC Short Story Awards, and she won the O. Henry prize for "The American Embassy". She also won the David T. Wong International Short Story Prize 2002/2003 (PEN Center Award).[13]

Her first novel, Purple Hibiscus (2003), received wide critical acclaim; it was shortlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction (2004) and was awarded the Commonwealth Writers' Prize for Best First Book (2005).

Her second novel, Half of a Yellow Sun (2006), named after the flag of the short-lived nation of Biafra, is set before and during the Nigerian Civil War. It received the 2007 Orange Prize for Fiction and the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award.[14] Half of a Yellow Sun has been adapted into a film of the same title directed by Biyi Bandele, starring BAFTA winner and Academy Award nominee Chiwetel Ejiofor and BAFTA award-winner Thandie Newton, and was released in 2014.[15]

Her third book, The Thing Around Your Neck (2009), is a collection of twelve stories that explore the ties that bind men and women, parents and children, Africa and the United States.

In 2010 she was listed among the authors of The New Yorker′s "20 Under 40" Fiction Issue.[16] Adichie's story, "Ceiling", was included in the 2011 edition of The Best American Short Stories.

Her third novel, Americanah (2013), an exploration of a young Nigerian encountering race in America, was selected by the New York Times as one of The 10 Best Books of 2013.[17]

In April 2014, she was named as one of 39 writers aged under 40[18] in the Hay Festival and Rainbow Book Club project Africa39, celebrating Port Harcourt UNESCO World Book Capital 2014.[19]

In 2015, she was co-curator of the PEN World Voices Festival.[20]

Adichie says on feminism and writing, "I think of myself as a storyteller, but I would not mind at all if someone were to think of me as a feminist writer... I'm very feminist in the way I look at the world, and that world view must somehow be part of my work."[21]


Adichie spoke on "The Danger of a Single Story" for TED in 2009.[22] On 15 March 2012, she delivered the "Connecting Cultures" Commonwealth Lecture 2012 at the Guildhall, London.[23] Adichie also spoke on being a feminist for TEDxEuston in December 2012, with her speech entitled, "We should all be feminists".[24] This speech was sampled for the 2013 song "***Flawless" by American performer Beyoncé, where it attracted further attention.

"The Danger of a Single Story" TED talk

As mentioned above, Adichie spoke in a TED talk entitled "The Danger of a Single Story" posted in October 2009.[22] In it, she expresses her concern for underrepresentation of various cultures.[25] She explains that as a young child, she had often read American and British stories, where the characters were primarily caucasian.

Adichie illustrates her ideology that the underrepresentation of cultural differences may be dangerous, "Now, I loved those American and British books I read. They stirred my imagination. They opened up new worlds for me. But the unintended consequence was that I did not know that people like me could exist in literature." [25]

Throughout the lecture, she uses personal anecdotes to exemplify the importance of sharing different stories. Adichie briefly discusses their houseboy, Fide, and how she only knew of how poor their family was. When Adichie's family visited Fide's village, Fide's mother showed them a basket that Fide's brother had made. "It had not occurred to me that anybody in his family could actually make something. All I had heard about them was how poor they were, so that it had become impossible for me to see them as anything else but poor. Their poverty was my single story of them."[25] She also shares that when leaving Nigeria to go Drexel University, she encountered the effects of the underrepresentation of her own culture. Her American roommate was surprised Adichie was fluent in English and that she did not listen to tribal music.[26] She analyzes the significance in this, "My roommate had a single story of Africa: a single story of catastrophe. In this single story, there was no possibility of Africans being similar to her in any way, no possibility of feelings more complex than pity, no possibility of a connection as human equals." [25]

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie concludes the lecture by noting the significance of different stories in various cultures and the representation that they deserve. She advocates for a greater understanding of stories because people are complex. By only understanding a single story, misinterpret people, their backgrounds, and their histories.

"We should all be feminists" TEDx talk, and "Flawless" song verse

In 2013, Adichie delivered a TEDx talk titled: "We should all be feminists." She shared her experiences of being an African feminist, and her views on gender construction and sexuality. Adichie believes that the problem with gender is that it shapes who we are.[24] She says, "I am angry. Gender as it functions today is a grave injustice. We should all be angry. Anger has a long history of bringing about positive change, but in addition to being angry, I’m also hopeful because I believe deeply in the ability of human beings to make and remake themselves for the better." [27]

Parts of Adichie's TED talk were sampled in Beyoncé's song "Flawless" in December 2013.[28] Speaking of the performance during an interview with, Adichie commented that "anything that gets young people talking about feminism is a very good thing."[4] Responding to critiques of Beyoncé's feminist credentials in another interview, Adichie asserted that "Whoever says they’re feminist is bloody feminist." [29]

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's sampled talk parts in Beyoncé's song "Flawless" (Note: The parts contribute so significantly to the song lyrics that Adichie takes on the description of featuring artist on the track):[30]

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: a person who believes in the social
Political, and economic equality of the sexes[30][31]

In another interview with Dutch magazine, De Volkskrant, Adichie discusses why she waited so long before commenting on her contribution to Beyoncé's Flawless. She said, "Another thing I hated was that I read everywhere: now people finally know her, thanks to Beyoncé, or: she must be very grateful. I found that disappointing. I thought: I am a writer and I have been for some time and I refuse to perform in this charade that is now apparently expected of me: 'Thanks to Beyoncé, my life will never be the same again.' That's why I didn't speak about it much."[32] She also asserts that Beyoncé's feminism is not reflective of her own feminist values. She said, "Her [Beyoncé] type of feminism is not mine, as it is the kind that, at the same time, gives quite a lot of space to the necessity of men. I think men are lovely, but I don't think that women should relate everything they do to men: did he hurt me, do I forgive him, did he put a ring on my finger? We women are so conditioned to relate everything to men."[33] At the core of feminism is the argument that women should be able to exist and be recognized as independent people apart from men, but in a partriarchal society, they are unable to because their existence has been inseparable from men--until now. Adichie's arguments on Beyoncé's feminism may be derived from Beyoncé's album, LEMONADE, which can be understood from a feminist lens, however it is not as radical because at the core of the album is her emotional, physical, and mental struggles with a man.


Awards and nominations

Year Award Work Result
2002 Caine Prize for African Writing "You in America" Nominated[A]
Commonwealth Short Story Competition "The Tree in Grandma's Garden" Nominated[B]
BBCmeasuring Competition "That Harmattan Morning" Won[C]
2002/2003 David T. Wong International Short Story Prize (PEN American Center Award) "Half of a Yellow Sun Won
2003 O. Henry Prize "The American Embassy" Won
2004 Hurston-Wright Legacy Award: Best Debut Fiction Category Purple Hibiscus Won
Orange Prize Nominated[A]
Booker Prize Nominated[D]
Young Adult Library Services Association Best Books for Young Adults Award Nominated
2004/2005 John Llewellyn Rhys Prize Nominated[A]
2005 Commonwealth Writers' Prize: Best First Book (Africa) Won
Commonwealth Writers' Prize: Best First Book (overall) Won
2006 National Book Critics Circle Award Half of a Yellow Sun Nominated
2007 British Book Awards: "Richard & Judy Best Read of the Year" category Nominated
James Tait Black Memorial Prize Nominated
Commonwealth Writers' Prize: Best Book (Africa) Nominated[A]
Anisfield-Wolf Book Award: Fiction category Won[C]
PEN Beyond Margins Award Won[C]
Orange Broadband Prize: Fiction category Won
2008 International Impac Dublin Award Herself Nominated
Reader's Digest Author of the Year Award Won
Future Award, Nigeria: Young Person of the Year category[34] Won
MacArthur Foundation Genius Grant[35] Won
2009 International Nonino Prize[36] Won
Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award The Thing Around Your Neck Nominated[D]
John Llewellyn Rhys Prize Nominated[A]
2010 Commonwealth Writers' Prize: Best Book (Africa) Nominated[A]
Dayton Literary Peace Prize Nominated[B]
2011 ThisDay Awards: "New Champions for an Enduring Culture" category Herself Nominated
2013 Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize: Fiction category Americanah Won
National Book Critics Circle Award: Fiction category[37][38][39] Won
2014 Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction[40] Nominated[A]
Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction[41] Nominated[A]
MTV Africa Music Awards 2014: Personality of the Year[42] Herself Nominated
2015 Grammy Award: Album of the Year BEYONCÉ Nominated
International Dublin Literary Award Americanah Nominated[A]
A^ Shortlisted
B^ Runner-up
C^ Joint win
D^ Longlisted

Other recognitions

Adichie on the cover of Ms. magazine in 2014


This list is incomplete; you can help by expanding it.


Short fiction

Title Year First published Reprinted/collected
"Checking out" 2013 Adichie, Chimamanda Ngozi (18 March 2013). "Checking out". The New Yorker. 89 (5): 66–73. 
"Apollo" 2015 Adichie, Chimamanda Ngozi (13 April 2015). "Apollo". The New Yorker. 91 (8): 64–69. 
"‘The Arrangements’: A Work of Fiction" 2016 Adichie, Chimamanda Ngozi (3 July 2016). "'The Arrangements': A Work of Short Fiction". The New York Times Book Review. 


Guest appearances

See also

Nigerian female novelists


  1. Although Adichie's name has been pronounced a variety of ways in English, the following attempts to best approximate the Igbo pronunciation of it for English speakers: IPA: /ˌɪmɑːˈmɑːndə əŋˈɡzi ʌˈd/; US dict: chĭ·mâ·mân·də (ə)ng·gō·zē ŭ·dēch·(y)ā; Wikipedia pronunciation key: chim-ah-mahn-də (ə)ng-goh-zee uh-deech-(y)ay


  1. "Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie". Front Row. 3 May 2013. BBC Radio 4. Retrieved 18 January 2014.
  2. Nixon, Rob (1 October 2006). "A Biafran Story". The New York Times. Retrieved 25 January 2009.
  3. James Copnall, "Steak Knife", The Times Literary Supplement, 16 December 2011, p. 20.
  4. 1 2 "Feminism Is Fashionable For Nigerian Writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie", NPR, 18 March 2014.
  5. "Biography", The Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie website.
  6. "Class of 2008 - MacArthur Foundation". Retrieved 2016-10-01.
  7. "Picture of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie". The Guardian. Retrieved 26 December 2013.
  8. "Eight to receive Johns Hopkins honorary degrees at commencement ceremony", HUB, Johns Hopkins University, 22 April 2016.
  9. "You can now call her Dr Adichie", This Is Africa, 19 May 2016.
  10. Chutel, Lynsey. "Award-winning author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has had a baby, not that it's anyone's business". Retrieved 2016-07-03.
  11. "The Caine Prize for African Writing". Retrieved 30 August 2013.
  12. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie page at
  13. "Awards & Nominations", Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie website; Half of a Yellow Sun, full story
  15. Leslie Felperin, "Half of a Yellow Sun: London Review", Hollywood Reporter, 10 November 2013.
  16. "20 Under 40: Q. & A.: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie". The New Yorker. 14 June 2010. Retrieved 30 August 2013.
  17. "Americanah by Chimamanda Adichie Features in NY Times The 10 Best Books of 2013",, 18 December 2013.
  18. List of artists, Africa39.
  19. Port Harcourt UNESCO World Book Capital 2014 website.
  20. Wolfe, Alexandra (1 May 2015). "Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie on the World of African Literature". Wal Street Journal. Retrieved 3 May 2015.
  21. Hobson, Janell (2014). "Storyteller". Ms. (Summer): 26–29.
  22. 1 2 TEDGlobal 2009. "Chimamanda Adichie: "The danger of a single story", TED, July 2009". Retrieved 30 August 2013.
  23. Commonwealth Lecture 2012: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, "Reading realist literature is to search for humanity", Commonwealth Foundation
  24. 1 2 "We should all be feminists – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie at TEDxEuston". YouTube. 12 April 2013. Retrieved 30 August 2013.
  25. 1 2 3 4 Adichie, Chimamanda Ngozi. "Transcript of "The danger of a single story"". Retrieved 2016-10-04.
  26. TED (2009-10-07), The danger of a single story | Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, retrieved 2016-10-04
  27. "TED | We should all be feminists – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie at TEDxEuston (transcript)". Vialogue.
  28. Miles Raymer, "'Billboard' Hot 100 recap: Beyonce's 'Flawless' finally hits the chart", Entertainment Weekly, 4 September 2014.
  29. Britni Danielle, "Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Defends Beyoncé: 'whoever Says They're Feminist is Bloody Feminist'", Clutch, 20 March 2014.
  30. 1 2 "***Flawless Lyrics". Genius. Retrieved 23 June 2015.
  31. "Beyonce Flawless Lyrics". Elyrics. Retrieved 23 June 2015.
  32. "Ngozi Adichie: Beyoncé's Feminism Isn't My Feminism".
  33. "Ngozi Adichie: Beyoncé's Feminism Isn't My Feminism".
  34. Rachel Ogbu (27 January 2008). "Tomorrow Is Here". Newswatch. Retrieved 30 August 2013.
  35. Name Search › (27 January 2008). "Chimamanda Adichie – MacArthur Foundation". Retrieved 30 August 2013.
  36. "African Writing Online, No. 6". 17 May 2009. Retrieved 30 August 2013.
  37. Kirsten Reach (14 January 2014). "NBCC finalists announced". Melville House Books. Retrieved 14 January 2014.
  38. "Announcing the National Book Critics Awards Finalists for Publishing Year 2013". National Book Critics Circle. 14 January 2014. Retrieved 14 January 2014.
  39. "National Book Critics Circle Announces Award Winners for Publishing Year 2013". National Book Critics Circle. 13 March 2014. Retrieved 13 March 2014.
  40. Mark Brown (7 April 2014). "Donna Tartt heads Baileys women's prize for fiction 2014 shortlist". The Guardian. Retrieved 11 April 2014.
  41. Hillel Italie (30 June 2014). "Tartt, Goodwin awarded Carnegie medals". Seattle Times. Associated Press. Retrieved 1 July 2014.
  42. "Mafikizolo, Uhuru, Davido lead nominations for MTV Africa Music Awards". Sowetan LIVE. Retrieved 14 April 2014.
  43. "The Leading Global Thinkers of 2013". Foreign Policy. Foreign Policy. Retrieved 14 December 2013.
  44. "Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: The World's 100 Most Influential People". Retrieved 14 December 2015.

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