Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is a Nigerian born novelist. Born in 1977 to a middle class family of university educators, Chimamanda was raised in Southeastern Nigeria and read at an early age. Surrounded by English children’s literature she felt the call to write stories very young, but the lack of African children’s literature had a profound effect on Adichie. She often recounts that her initial stories featured white children doing things that she read about rather than stories of children like herself and the reality she saw everyday.
Adichie studied medicine briefly at the University of Nigeria before leaving for the United States to study communications and political science at Drexel University. Eventually, she transferred to Eastern Connecticut State University where she graduated with distinction in 2001. In 2003 she received a master’s degree in creative writing from John Hopkins University and went on to also receive a Masters of Arts in African Studies from Yale University in 2008.
A collection of poetry entitled Decisions was her first published work, which was quickly followed by a play and short stories. In 2003 she published her debut novel Purple Hibiscus to critical acclaim, earning Adichie recognition as one of the leading new young English speaking African novelists breathing new life into African literature.
When I looked at the list of awards Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has won, I was struck by the depth and breadth. Since 2002 she has been nominated for an award every year and won an award in all but four of those years. Most recently, her Ted Talk “We Should all be Feminists” was sampled for the song Flawless that appeared on the Grammy Award nominated album Beyoncé.
Currently, she has a published collection of 12 short stories entitled The Thing Around Your Neck. Multiple stories published in literary magazines and three novels. In additional to Purple Hibiscus, she has published Half of a Yellow Sun and Americanah—which was selected as one of the ten best books of 2013 by the New York Times Book Review.
Half of a Yellow Sun was adapted to film and released in 2014. Americanah is set to become a movie starring Lupita Nyong’o and David Oyelowo. This film is being produced by Brad Pitt’s Plan B along with Lupita Nyong’o and Andrea Calderwood. Plan B has previously produced a number of films including Selma, 12 Years a Slave, and The Time Traveler’s Wife.
I highly recommend you listen to her Ted talks. They are funny, engaging and, for me, provoked a feeling of recognition and contemplation as I researched her. Below is her speech called The Dangers of One Story.