Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is an award-winning Nigerian novelist, nonfiction writer and short story writer. She is best known for her novels, Purple Hibiscus, Half of a Yellow Sun and Americanah and her inspirational 2012 TEDx talk entitled “We should all be feminists” which was adapted into a book-length essay in 2014.

Adichie was born in 1977 in Enugu, Nigeria to Grace Ifeoma, who was the first female registrar at the University of Nigeria and James Nwoye Adichie, Nigeria’s first professor of statistics and later Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the University of Nigeria. The family’s ancestral home was in Abba in Anambra State, but Adichie grew up in Nsukka in a house formerly owned by the Nigerian writer Chinua Achebe, whose writing inspired Adichie. She attended a secondary school which was part of the University, before continuing her education there, studying medicine and pharmacy for a year and a half. While at the University, she edited a magazine run by the University’s Catholic medical students called The Compass.

At 19, Adichie moved to the United States where she earned a scholarship to study communication at Drexel University in Philadelphia, she spent two years at the university before transferring to study a degree in communication and political science at Eastern Connecticut State University. Adichie began her first novel, Purple Hibiscus in her senior year at Eastern, and graduated summa cum laude in 2001. Two years later, she received a master’s degree in creative writing from Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore. During this time, Adichie had been writing and in 1997 a collection of her poems entitled Decisions were published, a year later she wrote a play For Love of Biafra, one of her earliest works which explores the war in the late 1960s between Nigeria and its secessionist Biafra republic. In 2002 she was shortlisted for the Caine Prize for her story story “You in America”.

In October 2003, Adichie’s debut novel Purple Hibiscus was published, the novel deals with the story of a 15 year old living in Nigeria who comes from a wealthy and respected family but is terrorised by her fanatically religious father. The novel received wide critical acclaim, it was shortlisted for the Orange Fiction Prize (2004) and was awarded the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best First Book (2005). That year, Adichie was also selected as a joint winner of the BBC Short Story Awards, won the O. Henry prize for “The American Embassy” and the David T. Wong International Short Story Prize 2002/2003 (PEN Center Award). Adichie followed Purple Hibiscus with her second novel, Half of a Yellow Sun in 2006. The book is named after the flag of Biafra, and is set before and during the Nigeria Civil War. The book received the 2007 Orange Prize for Fiction and the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award. In 2014, it was adapted into a film of the same title starring BAFTA winner and Academy Award nominee Chiwetel Ejiofor and BAFTA award-winner Thandie Newton.

During the 2005 - 2006 academic year, Adichie was a Hodder fellow at Princeton University, and in 2008 she earned an MA in African Studies from Yale University and was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship. In 2009, Adichie published a critically acclaimed collection of short stories under the title of The Thing Around Your Neck. In the 2011 - 2012 academic year, she was awarded a fellowship by the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University where she was able to finish her third novel, Americanah which explores the romantic and existential struggles of a young Nigerian woman studying (and blogging about race) in the United States and was published in 2013. The novel was selected by the New York Times as one of The 10 Best Books of 2013. A year later, she was named as one of 39 writers aged under 40 in the Hay Festival and Rainbow Book Club project Africa 39, celebrating Port Harcourt UNESCO World Book Capital.

In addition to her writing, Adichie is an accomplished speaker and spoke on “The Danger of a Single Story” for TED in 2009. She followed this in with a lecture at the “Connecting Cultures” Commonwealth Lecture in March 2012 at the Guildhall, London and in December 2012, she gave an inspirational speech entitled “We should all be feminists” for TEDxEuston in which she shared her experiences of being an African feminist, and detailed her views on gender construction and sexuality stating that “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.“ In 2013, part of this speech was sampled in ”***Flawless” by Beyoncê, bringing more attention both to feminism and to Adichie herself. The sampled section concludes with “Feminist: a person who believes in the social, political, and economic equality of the sexes”, a statement which clearly outlines why feminism is necessary. In 2014, “We should all be feminists” was adapted and published as a book-length essay, The Independent named it book of the year and wrote that it “would be the book I’d press into the hands of girls and boys, as an inspiration for a future ‘world of happier men and happier women who are truer to themselves.”. In 2015, the Swedish Women’s Lobby and Alber Bonniers, a publisher announced that Sweden would do exactly that, and will distribute a copy of “We should all be feminists” to every sixteen year old high school student.

Adichie has been called “the most prominent” of a “procession of critically acclaimed young anglophone authors [that] is succeeding in attracting a new generation of readers to African literature”. She has received numerous accolades, including the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction and The Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize for Fiction; and being named one of The New York Times Ten Best Books of the Year. She divides her time between Nigeria, where she regularly teaches writing workshops and the United States.

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