Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is a magician of words, and undoubtedly one of the most famous female African writers of all time. Her work has been translated into over thirty languages which have made her one of the most highly praised African authors in the ocean of African literature. Engaging and thought provoking, Chimamanda’s works deal with intersections of postcolonial Nigeria and African culture. As well as issues of gender inequality – establishing and defending political, economic and social rights for women. A thoroughly talented writer, Chimamanda Adichie is a ground breaker in her field and her books are a must for those who want to explore African and feminist literature. From Purple Hibiscus to Half of a Yellow Sun to Americanah, here we explore some of her must-read books.
We also recommend our guide to the top 10 books by African writers you have to read.
With Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s vivid imagination and the power to bring out magic from her words, Americanah is another masterpiece in itself. Telling the fascinating tale of race and identity about Nigerian woman, Ifemelu, who immigrates to the United States for university education. Like many of Adichie’s other works, Americanah draws on historical, cultural, gender and race references, threaded by the love story of the young and in love Ifemelu and Obinze. And their stuggles with race and identity in the Western world as well as their passion for each other and for their motherland. Americanah is licensed for publication in 29 languages and won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction in 2013. And has been listed among the New York Times Book Review’s “Ten Best Books of 2013.”
Purple Hibiscus, 2003
Inspired by postcolonial Nigeria and its political instability and economic difficulties. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie creates an epic story of disintegration family told through Kambili’s eyes. The whole plot takes place during the teenage years of Kambili and how it affected her growing period. What captivates the reader in Purple Hibiscus is the incredibly rich network of references, cultures, religion and tales which interweave within the story. Taking influences from African and Western cultures, as well and ancient and contemporary, Adichie creates an unforgettable tale with Purple Hibiscus which transcends time and space. Purple Hibiscus has been hailed by critics hailed as one of the best novels to come out of Africa in years. The novel is licensed for publication in over 20 languages. The book has won serval awards including the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award (Best Debut Fiction Category) in 2004 and the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize: Best First Book (Africa) in 2005.
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I realized while reading #PurpleHibiscus that I’ve read relatively few fiction books that take place in Africa (for international reads, I seem to read more Asian & South/Central American literature). So I just organized a list of all the African countries & sorted into it all the books I’ve already read. Now I can tackle this systematically, in my typical nerd style. What African reads would you recommend? I know that this a ridiculous range to ask for and that there are tons!!
Half of a Yellow Sun, 2006
A haunting novel telling the fascinating tale of Biafra’s struggle to establish an independent republic in Nigeria, and the violence that it brought. Half of a Yellow Sun is one of the most successful African novels of the 21st century. The book story follows the relationships of five people’s lives including twin daughters of a businessman, a professor, a British citizen, and 13-year-old Ugwu, a houseboy. The tale is allegorical of Nigeria and modern African history about colonialism, class race and ethnic allegiances – and ways in which love can affect them all. Half of a Yellow Sun was awarded the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award in 2007 and the winner of the ‘Best of the Best’ of the second decade of the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction in 2015. Half of a Yellow Sun is licensed for publication in over 30 languages.
The Thing Around Your Neck, 2009
Reading The Thing Around Your Neck is like catching a glimpse inside Adichie’s personal diary on Africa and the United States. The work is a collection of twelve stories in which she talks about various topic including ties that bind men and women, parents and children. Also, private experiences on two cultures (Nigerian and American), and the deeply human struggle to reconcile them. Reading this book, you’ll be drawn into Adichie’s signature emotional wisdom, revealing many of her thoughts on cultural scene. The Thing Around Your Neck is licensed for publication in about 19 languages.