Recorded at the Lensic Theater in Santa Fe, New Mexico on September 28, 2011.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie burst onto the literary scene with her remarkable debut novel, Purple Hibiscus, hailed by critics as “one of the best novels to come out of Africa in years” (Baltimore Sun), with “prose as lush as the Nigerian landscape that it powerfully evokes” (The Boston Globe).
Her award-winning second novel, Half of a Yellow Sun, illuminates a seminal moment in African history: Biafra’s struggle to establish an independent republic in southeastern Nigeria during the late 1960s.
“We do not usually associate wisdom with beginners, but here is a new writer endowed with the gift of ancient storytellers. She is fearless, or she would not have taken on the intimidating horror of Nigeria’s civil war. Adichie came almost fully made.” Chinua Achebe
“An immense achievement. As well as freshly re-creating this nightmarish chapter in her country’s history, she writes about the slow process by which love, if strong enough, may overcome.” The Observer (London)
In her most recent book, That Thing Around Your Neck, Adichie turns her penetrating eye on not only Nigeria but America, in 12 stories that explore the ties that bind men and women, parents and children, Africa and the United States.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie was born in Nigeria in 1977 and grew up in the university town of Nsukka, where she briefly studied medicine and pharmacy. She then moved to the United States to attend college, graduating from Eastern Connecticut State and later earning Masters degrees in creative writing from Johns Hopkins and in African Studies from Yale University. Her fiction has appeared in Granta, The New Yorker, and The Iowa Review among other journals.
She divides her time between the United States and Nigeria.
In this episode she is joined in conversation with Binyavanga Wainaina. The companion Reading episode may be found here.
Additional photos of this event are available on Flickr.
You may learn more about this event on the Lannan website; you may also listen to audio recordings of this event there.
An interesting conversation between the two friends, both “post post colonial writers” from Nigeria and Kenya, though Chimamanda’s been included in the “Forty under Forty in America” by the New Yorker. Her prose is elegant, she’s a lovely writer, his is somewhat robust, and I think he’s a bit full of himself, frankly, if his recent comments in the Guardian and elsewhere are anything to go by.
Their take on writing about America was more tongue-in-cheek, one hopes, because there are indeed people who “found their voice” when they came to America, some from the very places these two hail from. She has already included America in many of her stories.
And yes, there are untold numbers who were glad to leave other notions of “human rights” behind them when they came to these shores. In fact, I, for one, have felt exactly that to a large degree. I come from a minority (meaning not black) community in Binyawanga’s homeland, and honest, free communication was not possible for those very reasons that he seems to mock. Things apparently have changed some for the better, I take it.
Thank you for the podcast, enjoyed it.
hi! watching this video has contributed to my ‘hunger spirit’ to read and listen more about African literature in general. as a Tanzania, Nigeria and Kenya literature has been always in my mind. Thanks a lot. its an inspiring work.