Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Hailed as Africa's "it girl" by Elissa Schappell and Rob Spillmann in the much-maligned July issue of Vanity Fair, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has already written two acclaimed novels while yet to celebrate her 30th birthday. Her first novel, Purple Hibiscus, draws loosely on her own childhood growing up in the university town of Nsukka in eastern Nigeria. Her second novel, Half of a Yellow Sun, is built around the Nigerian civil war of the late 1960s.
Miss Adichie impresses one as a vivacious and yet extremely thoughtful and sensitive young woman in her many interviews. Interviewed by Wale Adebanwi for Nigeria Village Square in 2005, Chimamanda politely corrected Mr. Adebanwi regarding his mistaken assumptions drawn from Purple Hibiscus. In the same breath, however, she expresses a reluctance to explain her fiction and a respect for multiple interpretations by her readers.
Another 2005 interview, posted on Chimamanda's website by Daria Tunca, explores her relationship to her generation of Nigerians and to great Nigerian writers such as Chinua Achebe. A recent profile by Marie Arana in the Washington Post shows a humble and mature woman who is willing to let slip personal recollections which are not altogether flattering. Chmamanda relates that her sister's Igbo nickname for her was agadi nwanyi, meaning "old woman."
I must admit that I am quite tardy in my own discovery of Chimamanda's fiction. Half of a Yellow Sun was awarded this year's Orange Broadband Prize for Fiction back in June, as recognized so eloquently by African blogger Koluki.