Now, more than ever, it is vital that we as readers expand the scope of the work we consume – to better understand ourselves, and the world around us.
Whether you’re a longtime fan or looking for a new author to admire, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie should be at the top of your reading list. Born in Enugu, Nigeria, Chimamanda has made waves in the literary world for both her prowess as a writer and creative, and her staggering list of intellectual and activism-based achievements. Authoring award wining novels such as Americanah, Purple Hibiscus, and We Should All Be Feminists; Adichie’s works draw on significant political and cultural themes, historical and contemporary. A steadfast, intentional feminist and a powerful voice in African literature; Adichie’s work speaks against the West’s discriminatory perspective on the realities of Nigeria and dispels, through her writing, the mistruth of the images of African society carried in ignorance.
Adichie is a woman unapologetic in her womanhood, in her culture, and her work speaks to both values. Her first novel, Purple Hibiscus, follows teenage protagonist Kambili Achike as she comes of age in post-colonial Nigeria. Throughout Purple Hibiscus, Adichie touches on the trials of both girlhood and womanhood, domestic violence, religion and its societal effects, and the cultural realities of growing up in Nigeria. The backdrops of the novel, Nigerian cities Enugu and Nsukka, are Adichie’s birthplace and childhood hometown respectively. Thus, she writes from a perspective of true-to-life experience, strengthening the rich prose and engaging narrative. Within Purple Hibiscus, despite the difficult and tumultuous events of the narrative (no spoilers!) Adichie highlights Nigeria’s natural beauty, and the graciousness and heart of its people. Today, Nigeria is not only the fashion and technological hub of Africa, but is also home to the second largest film industry in the world. Lush with uniquely beautiful flora, fauna, and flourishing artistic culture, Nigeria is a cultural powerhouse of the African continent.
Another can’t-miss work penned by Adichie is We Should All Be Feminists, an anecdotal and analysis based book-length essay adapted from Adichie’s famed Ted Talk of the same title. We Should All Be Feminists bolsters powerful and necessary conversation as to gender roles and construction, our societal beliefs, and the ways in which the word feminism has been warped and weaponized beyond its intended sentiment by those who would rather oppose women’s liberation and equity in the societal sphere. Throughout We Should All Be Feminists, Adichie invites powerful dialogue between men and women in all aspects of feminism, from sexuality to professional success, and in these conversations encourages us all, as the title states, to be feminists by true definition.
Everyone has heard the expression “you are what you eat” – and it’s true, in a sense. In certain ways, we are all products of what we consume. Not just what we eat, but what we experience, what we find ourselves drawn to, what we consume insofar as media. In a time where media is so heavily saturated, where media consumption is such a conscious and underscoring part of our everyday lives and environments, it’s more important now than ever to be a conscious consumer. Reading is a part of this. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is a powerful writer, a successful woman, and a brilliant intellectual and creative in her own right, but the unique perspective she writes with is one we, as a community of readers should examine and appreciate for its value. Not only for the immersive, beautiful qualities of her literature, but also for the active role her work takes in uplifting the voices of BIPOC, LGBTQ+ and women creatives from all walks of life, and of all cultures.