Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: Culture and Feminism in Literature

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is a Nigerian writer. She has written many award-winning books exploring themes of identity, religion, politics, family and many more. She is a strong feminist and gives many reasons why it is important that we fight for gender equality. Her work demonstrates how literature can be for all cultures and how those cultures can be changed by movements like feminism.

HER WRITING INSPIRATIONS

Chimamanda, born in Enugu, Nigeria, began reading and writing from a very young age. When she began reading, she mainly read American and British novels. The first stories that she read were filled with white characters. The characters ate apples, drank ginger beer and discussed the weather. So when Chimamanda started writing, those were the things she wrote about. As an adult, Chimamanda reflected on her childhood reading in a talk and said: ‘I did not know that people like me could exist in literature.’

As Chimamanda grew up, she began searching for books that would reflect her background as a young Nigerian girl. Her search led her to brilliant authors such as Chinua Achebe and Camara Laye. This helped Chimamanda see that there was a space for people like her in literature. She was inspired to write works exploring themes such as identity and belonging. There are many Nigerian characters in her work, sending the message that books and writing are for everyone.

HER WORKS

Chimamanda’s first published work was Purple Hibiscus. The story explores Nigerian politics, issues with Catholicism, British rule and freedom. Her book Americanah focuses on immigration and identity. She has written many other highly praised works such as Half a Yellow Sun; Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions and the short story collection The Thing Around Your Neck. She has also won many prizes including the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize.

HER FEMINISM

In a 2013 talk called ‘We Should All Be Feminists’ she discusses the problems she faces being a feminist. She describes how a man once told her to stop calling herself a feminist because ‘feminists are women who are unhappy because they cannot find husbands.’

In 2014, Chimamanda published a book the same title as her talk. She wrote, “Culture does not make people. People make culture.” In other words, people must change their views so that cultures can change with them.

CONCLUSION

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie believes very strongly that all cultures have a place in literature. She represents women and fights for them to be viewed equally. Most importantly, her books explore themes such as identity which are important to many of those who read her work.

 

Picture Credit: Howard County Library System

JENNA COLACO

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