Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, A Biography, From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie 9374.JPG

Adichie, Fairfax, 2013
Born 15 September 1977 (age 40)
EnuguEnugu State, Nigeria
Occupation Novelist, short story writer, nonfiction writer
Nationality Nigerian
Period 2003 — present
Notable works Purple Hibiscus
Half of a Yellow Sun
Notable awards MacArthur Fellowship (2008)
Spouse Ivara Esege[1]

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

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (/ˌɪmɑːˈmɑːndə əŋˈɡzi əˈd/ (About this sound listen);[note 1] born 15 September 1977) is a Nigerian writer of novels, short stories, and nonfiction.[3] In 2008 she was awarded a MacArthur Genius Grant. She was described in the Times Literary Supplement as “the most prominent” of a “procession of critically acclaimed young anglophone authors [who] is succeeding in attracting a new generation of readers to African literature”.[4]


Personal life and education

Adichie, who was born in the city of Enugu in Nigeria, grew up the fifth of six children in an Igbo family in the university town of Nsukka in Enugu State.[5] While she was growing up, her father, James Nwoye Adichie, was a professor of statistics at the University of Nigeria, and her mother, Grace Ifeoma, was the university’s first female registrar.[6] Her family’s ancestral village is in Abba in Anambra State.[7]

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 Uche,[8] who had a medical practice in Coventry. She received a bachelor’s degree from Eastern,[9] with the distinction of summa cum laude in 2001.[10]

In 2003, she completed a master’s degree in creative writing at Johns Hopkins University.[11] In 2008, she received a Master of Arts degree in African studies from Yale University.[12]

Adichie was a Hodder fellow at Princeton University during the 2005–06 academic year. In 2008 she was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship.[13] She was also awarded a 2011–12 fellowship by the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced StudyHarvard University.[10]

Adichie divides her time between Nigeria, where she teaches writing workshops, and the United States.[14][1] In 2016 she was conferred an honorary degree – Doctor of Humane letters, honoris causa, by Johns Hopkins University.[15][16] In 2017 she was conferred honorary degrees – Doctor of Humane letters, honoris causa, by Haverford College,[17] and The University of Edinburgh.[18]

In a 2 July 2016 interview with the Financial Times she said that she had a baby daughter.[19]

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[20][21] for her short story “You in America”,[22][23] and her story “That Harmattan Morning” was selected as a joint winner of the 2002 BBC World Service Short Story Awards.[24] In 2003, she won the O. Henry Award for “The American Embassy”, and the David T. Wong International Short Story Prize 2002/2003 (PEN Center Award).[25] Her stories were also published in Zoetrope: All-Story,[26] and Topic Magazine.[27]

Her first novel, Purple Hibiscus (2003), received wide critical acclaim; it was shortlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction (2004)[28] and was awarded the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best First Book (2005).[29]

Her second novel, Half of a Yellow Sun (2006), named after the flag of the shortlived 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.[30] Half of a Yellow Sun has been adapted into a film of the same title directed by Biyi Bandele, starring BAFTA award-winner and Academy Award nominee Chiwetel Ejiofor and BAFTA winner Thandie Newton, and was released in 2014.[31]

Adichie’s third book, The Thing Around Your Neck (2009), is a collection of 12 stories that explore the relationships between 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.[32] 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”.[33]

In April 2014, she was named as one of 39 writers aged under 40[34] in the Hay Festival and Rainbow Book Club project Africa39, celebrating Port Harcourt UNESCO World Book Capital2014.[35]

In 2015, she was co-curator of the PEN World Voices Festival.[36]

In a 2014 interview, Adichie said 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.”[37]

In March 2017, Americanah was picked as the winner for the “One Book, One New York” program,[38][39] part of a community reading initiative encouraging all city residents to read the same book.[40]

In April 2017, it was announced that Adichie had been elected into the 237th class of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, one of the highest honours for intellectuals in the United States, as one of 228 new members to be inducted on 7 October 2017.[41][42]

Her most recent book was published in March 2017 entitled Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions.[43]


Adichie spoke on “The Danger of a Single Story” for TED in 2009.[44] Since her interview on TED Talks, it has become one of the top ten most-viewed TED Talks of all time, with over five millions views.[43] On 15 March 2012, she delivered the “Connecting Cultures” Commonwealth Lecture 2012 at the Guildhall, London.[45] Adichie also spoke on being a feminist for TEDxEuston in December 2012, with her speech entitled, “We should all be feminists”.[46] It initiated a worldwide conversation on feminism, was published as book in 2014, and inspired a song by Beyonce.[43] 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

Adichie spoke in a TED talk entitled “The Danger of a Single Story”, posted in October 2009.[44] In it, she expresses her concern for underrepresentation of various cultures.[47] She explains that, as a young child, she had often read American and British stories where the characters were primarily of Caucasian origin.

At the lecture, she said that the underrepresentation of cultural differences could 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.”[47]

Throughout the lecture, she used personal anecdotes to illustrate the importance of sharing different stories. She briefly talks about the houseboy that was working for her family whose name is Fide, and how the only thing she knew about him was how poor his family was. However, when Adichie’s family visited Fide’s village, Fide’s mother showed them a basket that Fide’s brother had made, making her realize that she created her opinion about Fide based on only one story of him. Adichie said, “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.”[47] She also said that when leaving Nigeria to go to Drexel University, she encountered the effects of the underrepresentation of her own culture. Her American roommate was surprised that Adichie was fluent in English and that she did not listen to tribal music.[48] She said of 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.”[47]

Adichie concluded the lecture by noting the significance of different stories in various cultures and the representation that they deserve. She advocated for a greater understanding of stories because people are complex, saying that by only understanding a single story, one misinterprets people, their backgrounds, and their histories.

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

In 2012, Adichie delivered a TEDx talk entitled: “We should all be feminists.” She shared her experiences of being an African feminist, and her views on gender construction and sexuality. Adichie said that the problem with gender is that it shapes who we are.[46] She also said, “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.”[49]

Parts of Adichie’s TED talk were sampled in Beyoncé‘s song “Flawless” in December 2013.[50]

Harper-Collins published an essay based on the speech as a standalone volume, We Should All Be Feminists in 2014. She later said in an NPR interview that “anything that gets young people talking about feminism is a very good thing.”[6] She later qualified the statement in an interview with the Dutch magazine, De Volkskrant: “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.”[51]

Adichie has clarified that her particular feminism differs from Beyoncé’s, particularly in their disagreements about the role occupied by men in women’s lives, saying that “Her style is not my style, but I do find it interesting that she takes a stand in political and social issues, since a few years. She portrays a woman who is in charge of her own destiny, who does her own thing, and she has girl power. I am very taken with that.”[51] Nevertheless, she has been outspoken against critics who question the singer’s credentials as a feminist and said that “Whoever says they’re feminist is bloody feminist.”[52]

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 Literary Award Herself Nominated
Reader’s Digest Author of the Year Award Won
Future Award, Nigeria: Young Person of the Year category[53] Won
MacArthur Foundation Genius Grant[54] Won
2009 International Nonino Prize[55] 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[56][57][58] Won
2014 Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction[59] Nominated[A]
Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction[60] Nominated[A]
MTV Africa Music Awards 2014: Personality of the Year[61] Herself Nominated
2015 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

  • 2010 Listed among The New Yorker′s “20 Under 40”
  • 2013 Listed among The New York Times′ “Ten Best Books of 2013”, for Americanah
  • 2013 Listed among BBC’s “Top Ten Books of 2013”, for Americanah
  • 2013 Foreign Policy magazine “Top Global Thinkers of 2013”[62]
  • 2013 Listed among the New African′s “100 Most Influential Africans 2013”
  • 2014 Listed among Africa39 project of 39 writers aged under 40[63]
  • 2015 Listed among Time Magazines “The 100 Most Influential People”[64]



Essays published in book format

Short fiction

Title Year First published
“Checking out” 2013 “Checking out”The New Yorker89 (5): 66–73. 18 March 2013.
“Apollo” 2015 “Apollo”The New Yorker91 (8): 64–69. 13 April 2015.
“‘The Arrangements’: A Work of Fiction” 2016 “‘The Arrangements’: A Work of Short Fiction”The New York Times Book Review. 3 July 2016.


Guest appearances

See also

Nigerian female novelists


  1. Jump up^ 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: /ˌɪmɑːˈmɑːndə əŋˈɡzi əˈd/ CHIM-ah-MAHN-də əng-GOH-zee ə-DEE-chay


  1. Jump up to:a b Brockes, Emma (4 March 2017). “Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: ‘Can people please stop telling me feminism is hot?'”The GuardianISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 22 August 2017.
  2. Jump up^ “Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie”Front Row. 3 May 2013. BBC Radio 4. Retrieved 18 January 2014.
  3. Jump up^ Nixon, Rob (1 October 2006). “A Biafran Story”The New York Times. Retrieved 25 January 2009.
  4. Jump up^ James Copnall, “Steak Knife”, The Times Literary Supplement, 16 December 2011, p. 20.
  5. Jump up^ Anya, Ikechuku (15 October 2005). “In the Footsteps of Achebe: Enter Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie”African Writer.
  6. Jump up to:a b “Feminism Is Fashionable For Nigerian Writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie”. NPR, 18 March 2014.
  7. Jump up^ “Biography”, The Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie website.
  8. Jump up^ “Why Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Considers Her Sister a ‘Firm Cushion’ at Her Back”Vanity Fair, May 2016.
  9. Jump up^ “Alumni Profiles – Adichie | Alumni Affairs | Eastern Connecticut State University” Retrieved 16 January 2017.
  10. Jump up to:a b Leonard Okachie (19 May 2011). “In the News | Chimamanda Selected as Radcliffe Fellow”National Mirror. Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University. Retrieved 16 January 2017.
  11. Jump up^ “The Women of Hopkins”The Women of Hopkins. Retrieved 16 January 2017.
  12. Jump up^ “Recent Alumni” Yale Council on African Studies. Retrieved 16 January 2017.
  13. Jump up^ “Class of 2008 – MacArthur Foundation” Retrieved 1 October 2016.
  14. Jump up^ “Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie profile”The Guardian. Retrieved 26 December 2013.
  15. Jump up^ “Eight to receive Johns Hopkins honorary degrees at commencement ceremony”HUB, Johns Hopkins University, 22 April 2016.
  16. Jump up^ “You can now call her Dr Adichie”, This Is Africa, 19 May 2016.
  17. Jump up^ “Commencement 2017 Honorary Degrees”, Haverford College, 15 May 2017.
  18. Jump up^ “Acclaimed author receives honorary degree”, The University of Edinburgh, 28 July 2017.
  19. Jump up^ Chutel, Lynsey (3 July 2016). “Award-winning author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has had a baby, not that it’s anyone’s business”Quartz. Retrieved 3 July 2016.
  20. Jump up^ “The Caine Prize for African Writing”. Archived from the original on 12 August 2013. Retrieved 30 August 2013.
  21. Jump up^ “Previously shortlisted”, The Caine Prize.
  22. Jump up^ “You in America”, in Discovering Home: A selection of writings from the 2002 Caine Prize for African Writing, Jacana, 2003, pp. 27–34.
  23. Jump up^ “You in America”, Kwanini? Series, 2006.
  24. Jump up^ “Short Story Competition 2002”, BBC World Service.
  25. Jump up^ “Awards & Nominations”, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie website; “Half of a Yellow Sun”, full story
  26. Jump up^ “Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie” in Zoetrope.
  27. Jump up^ “Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: Home is Where the Heart Was”Topic Magazine, Issue 3, Winter 2003.
  28. Jump up^ “BAILEYS Women’s Prize for Fiction  » 2004” Retrieved 16 January 2017.
  29. Jump up^ “Prize winning author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie to speak at Commonwealth Lecture” The Commonwealth. 10 February 2012. Retrieved 16 January 2017.
  30. Jump up^ “Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie | Half of a Yellow Sun”, Winners, Thew 82nd Annual Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards.
  31. Jump up^ Leslie Felperin, “Half of a Yellow Sun: London Review”Hollywood Reporter, 10 November 2013.
  32. Jump up^ “20 Under 40: Q. & A.: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie”The New Yorker. 14 June 2010. Retrieved 30 August 2013.
  33. Jump up^ “The 10 Best Books of 2013”The New York Times, 4 December 2013.
  34. Jump up^ List of artists, Africa39.
  35. Jump up^ Port Harcourt UNESCO World Book Capital 2014 website.
  36. Jump up^ Wolfe, Alexandra (1 May 2015). “Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie on the World of African Literature”Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 3 May 2015.
  37. Jump up^ Hobson, Janell (2014). “Storyteller”. Ms. (Summer): 26–29.
  38. Jump up^ Chris Weller, “New Yorkers just selected a book for the entire city to read in America’s biggest book club”Business Insider, 16 March 2017.
  39. Jump up^ “One Book, One New York | And the winner is…”, NYC.
  40. Jump up^ John Williams, “One Book for Five Boroughs”The New York Times, 31 January 2017.
  41. Jump up^ “American Academy of Arts and Sciences Elects 228 National and International Scholars, Artists, Philanthropists, and Business Leaders”, American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
  42. Jump up^ “Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has been elected into the prestigious American Academy of Arts and Sciences”Ventures Africa. 15 April 2017. Retrieved 18 April 2017.
  43. Jump up to:a b c “Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Award-Winning Novel Purple Hibiscus is the 2017 One Maryland One Book – Maryland Humanities” Retrieved 1 May2017.
  44. Jump up to:a b TEDGlobal 2009. “Chimamanda Adichie: “The danger of a single story”, TED, July 2009″. Retrieved 30 August 2013.
  45. Jump up^ Commonwealth Lecture 2012: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, “Reading realist literature is to search for humanity” Archived 28 May 2012 at the Wayback Machine., Commonwealth Foundation
  46. Jump up to:a b “We should all be feminists – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie at TEDxEuston”. YouTube. 12 April 2013. Retrieved 30 August 2013.
  47. Jump up to:a b c d Adichie, Chimamanda Ngozi. “Transcript of “The danger of a single story””. Retrieved 4 October 2016.
  48. Jump up^ TED (2009-10-07), The danger of a single story | Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, retrieved 4 October 2016
  49. Jump up^ “TED | We should all be feminists – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie at TEDxEuston (transcript)”. Vialogue.
  50. Jump up^ Miles Raymer, “‘Billboard’ Hot 100 recap: Beyonce’s ‘Flawless’ finally hits the chart”Entertainment Weekly, 4 September 2014.
  51. Jump up to:a b “Ngozi Adichie: Beyoncé’s Feminism Isn’t My Feminism”.
  52. Jump up^ Britni Danielle, “Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Defends Beyoncé: ‘whoever Says They’re Feminist is Bloody Feminist'”Clutch, 20 March 2014.
  53. Jump up^ Rachel Ogbu (27 January 2008). “Tomorrow Is Here”Newswatch. Retrieved 30 August2013.[permanent dead link]
  54. Jump up^ Name Search › (27 January 2008). “Chimamanda Adichie – MacArthur Foundation”. Retrieved 30 August 2013.
  55. Jump up^ “African Writing Online, No. 6”. 17 May 2009. Retrieved 30 August 2013.
  56. Jump up^ Kirsten Reach (14 January 2014). “NBCC finalists announced”Melville House Books. Retrieved 14 January 2014.
  57. Jump up^ “Announcing the National Book Critics Awards Finalists for Publishing Year 2013”. National Book Critics Circle. 14 January 2014. Retrieved 14 January 2014.
  58. Jump up^ “National Book Critics Circle Announces Award Winners for Publishing Year 2013”. National Book Critics Circle. 13 March 2014. Retrieved 13 March 2014.
  59. Jump up^ Mark Brown (7 April 2014). “Donna Tartt heads Baileys women’s prize for fiction 2014 shortlist”The Guardian. Retrieved 11 April 2014.
  60. Jump up^ Hillel Italie (30 June 2014). “Tartt, Goodwin awarded Carnegie medals”Seattle Times. Associated Press. Retrieved 1 July 2014.
  61. Jump up^ “Mafikizolo, Uhuru, Davido lead nominations for MTV Africa Music Awards”Sowetan LIVE. 17 April 2014. Retrieved 3 April 2016.
  62. Jump up^ “The Leading Global Thinkers of 2013”Foreign Policy. Foreign Policy. Retrieved 14 December 2013.
  63. Jump up^ Busby, Margaret“Africa39: how we chose the writers for Port Harcourt World Book Capital 2014”The Guardian Books Blog, 10 April 2014.
  64. Jump up^ Radhika Jones (16 April 2015). “Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: The World’s 100 Most Influential People” Retrieved 14 December 2015.

Further reading

External links

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