Award Winning Feminist Author, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
An Introduction to the Work of the Award Winning Feminist Author, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
I was introduced to Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s work when I created my 2021 Reading Challenge that centers around women authors and feminist positions. I took my inspiration from a UN Women’s article listing Twelve Feminist Books Everyone Should Read and decided that was a worthy challenge. However, I was disappointed when I realized that I had read only one book from the list. Determined to right that wrong and armed with a copy of the article, I visited several book stores in NYC (here’s a list of some of my favourites here).
One of the books on the list was We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. At just 52 pages, it was a quick but powerful read. In the book, she talked about feminism in today’s society through a well-presented and argued essay adapted from her popular TED Talk of the same title. She calls out blatant discrimination, institutionalized and widespread behaviours and attitudes that marginalized and repressed women worldwide. It isn’t about ‘men bashing’ or a ‘burn your bra’ rant; it’s a balanced and thoughtful exploration of why gender inequality is harmful to women and men alike.
In addition to the primary goal of my reading challenge, I set myself another challenge–to read an additional twelve books, each related to one of the books listed in the UN Women article. This is where it got tricky. How do you select just one book to read next when faced with such an incredibly talented, hugely acclaimed and admired author like Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie? I did what I often do when selecting my next new read–I went with my heart and, in this instance, my favourite colour and picked up a copy of Purple Hibiscus, her first published novel that was shortlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction in 2004.
Set in Enugu, Nigeria, Purple Hibiscus introduces us to 15-year-old Kambili and her elder brother, Jaja. Kambili grows up in a privileged household, protected from the troubles outside her doorstep, and gets the opportunity to attend an exclusive and prestigious school. Her father is openly generous and caring, with a solid religious calling. However, through Kambili’s thoughts and words, we begin to see the negative effect of her father’s behaviour on his wife and children. As the family is forced to obey and conform to his tyrannical views, we experience the often heartbreaking tale of love and emotional tribulation. Teenage Kambili struggles to balance the love of a father with her love of her extended family and her growing interest in a world outside the confines of her home and father’s command.
I am in awe of Chimamanda’s talent for the written and spoken word. Her first novel, published when she was 26 years old, had me spellbound from the first to the last word. The fluency of her writing makes reading it not only a breeze but totally draws you into the story and the characters, to the point that you are actually there and can clearly visualize every scene that she presents. Her ability to engage with her audience and take them on a journey is evidenced in her TED Talks where an enraptured audience eagerly devours and warmly responds to her words and her humour. It is no surprise then that she was named one of TIME Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World in 2015. In 2017 Fortune Magazine named her one of the World’s 50 Greatest Leaders and it is abundantly clear to see why when you listen to her speak. Articulate, engaging and authentic, she drives the feminist agenda forcibly and with aptitude and intelligence that encourages people to follow or to become leaders themselves.
Many believe that Chimamanda is one of the world’s most talented writers and public speakers of the 21st century, and I couldn’t agree more. If you like this snippet that I have shared and want to learn more about her work and creative journey, you can check out her website, follow her on Instagram and Twitter
With 30 years of general management experience in the global insurance industry and having lived in 4 countries, Jacqui now spends her time between London and New York where she continues to pursue her passion for writing, food, books and travel.
A Reiki practitioner, yogi and huge animal advocate, her home isn’t complete without a furbaby or three. In addition to being a BooknBrunch contributor, she writes for industry publications.
Favourite book: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.
Favourite brunch dish: avocado toast with tomato and chilli