“Some people ask: ‘Why the word feminist? Why not just say you are a believer in human rights, or something like that?’ Because that would be … a way of pretending that it was not women who have, for centuries, been excluded. It would be a way of denying that the problem of gender targets women.”
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is a woman whose works have only become apparent to me in the last year or so. Awe inspiring and emotionally captivating, her works centre around Nigerian contexts in particular. I read Purple Hibiscus and it was that, that sparked a yearning for me to understand and fathom the socio-political movement of feminism. Now, as the face of Boots No 7, she can be highly regarded as an influencer. Boots is not the only brand who can recognise her success for she is also known for her much-celebrated Ted talks as well as just now being announced to address the Harvard University Class of 2018. Her works are the types young girls should be reading and looking up too.
- Purple Hibiscus
Winning the 2005 Commonwealth’s Writer Prize, Adichie’s debut as an author came in the form of Purple Hibiscus. Discussing life under the Nigerian military coup and the political turmoil of the 1990s, this story follows 15 year old Kambili. Her family is wealthy but run by her devout Catholic father, Eugene. The story is told through Kambili’s eyes and is essentially about the disintegration of her family unit and her struggle to grow to maturity.
- Half of a Yellow Sun
Half of a Yellow Sun was Adichie’s second novel. It follows three characters, Olanna, Ugwu, and Richard, and their experience inNigeria during the Biafran War. Thirteen year old Ugwu is employed as a houseboy for a university professor. Olanna is the professor’s beautiful mistress who has abandoned her wealthy life of privilege in Lagos for a dusty University town. And Richard, is a shy and young Englishman in thrall to Olanna’s twin sister. As Nigerian troops advance and they have to run for their lives, their ideals are tested as well as their loyalties to one another.
The New York Times rated Americanah one of the top 10 books for the year in 2013, and no wonder why. This is a powerful story of race and identity and follows the tale of Ifemelu and Obinze, two Nigerians who are young and in love when they depart military ruled Nigeria for the West. Ifemelu, who is beautiful and self-assured, heads for America, where despite her academic success, struggles with what it means to be black for the first time. Obinze hoped to join her but instead plunges into a dangerous life in London. Fifteen years later they reunite in Nigeria and begin to relight their passion for each other and also their homeland.
- We Should All Be Feminists
This is a slightly different work from Adichie and is, instead, a book-length essay discussing feminism. Here Adichie offers a unique definition of feminism fitting for the twenty-first century all about inclusion and awareness. She focuses on her own experiences and gives a deep understanding on the realities of sexual politics.
- The Thing Around Your Neck
Published in 2009, The Thing Around Your Neck is a collection of 12 short stories discussing issues in Africa and America. These stories have Adichie’s signature emotional wisdom all over them and talk about the collision of two cultures.
What are your favourite novels by Adichie? Let us know down in the comments.
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