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By Donna Yee (October 23, 2007)

Nigerian-born Writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Visits UAlbany

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Photo courtesy of the New York State Writers Institute)

"I think what's interesting about having a colonial education is that it's mostly absurd," said Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie of her education while living in Nigeria. Adichie, whose name translates to "my god will not fall down," grew up in the university town of Nsukka, Nigeria, living in the house which was once the residence of famed Nigerian writer Chinua Achebe. Her colonial education influences her writing and desire to inform Nigerians and others of the history of Nigeria that became buried underneath the history of the United Kingdom.

The New York State Writers Institute welcomed Adichie to UAlbany Oct. 17, in an afternoon seminar held in the Campus Center Assembly Hall. Donald Faulkner, director of the New York State Writers Institute, introduced Adichie as a "prodigious talent." Adichie was also given a special introduction to the audience by graduate student Jennifer Hill, highlighting the numerous awards and achievements the author has received. In addition, Hill praised Adichie's writing and ability to bring readers into her novels.

Adichie's first novel, Purple Hibiscus, won international acclaim and received the Commonwealth Writers Prize. Her second novel, Half of a Yellow Sun, was the co-winner of the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award and the PEN "Beyond Margins" Award for 2007. Half of a Yellow Sun was the winner of the United Kingdom's Orange Broadband Prize for Fiction. In addition, in 2003 Adichie received the O. Henry Prize for her short story, "American Embassy," and was co-winner of the 2002 BBC Short Story Competition.

In response to a question from the audience, Adichie said her writing process depends on what she is writing at the time.

"My approach to writing is that it's a continuing process of revision," she said. In addition, Adichie prefers to write and then come back to her writing with fresh eyes. She said, "When you force it, it just ends up really bad."

Adichie also expressed enthusiasm for new writers and those who have taken up an interest in writing about the topics of Africa and its history. She said, "It's the beginning of something really exciting."

Adichie earned a master's degree in creative writing from Johns Hopkins University, and was a Hodder Fellow at Princeton University from 2005-2006, teaching Introductory Fiction. She is currently pursuing graduate work in African Studies at Yale University.


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