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Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions
From the best-selling author of Americanah and We Should All Be Feminists comes a powerful new statement about feminism today–written as a letter to a friend.
A few years ago, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie received a letter from a dear friend from childhood, asking her how to raise her baby girl as a feminist. Dear Ijeawele is Adichie’s letter of response.
Here are fifteen invaluable suggestions–compelling, direct, wryly funny, and perceptive–for how to empower a daughter to become a strong, independent woman. From encouraging her to choose a helicopter, and not only a doll, as a toy if she so desires; having open conversations with her about clothes, makeup, and sexuality; debunking the myth that women are somehow biologically arranged to be in the kitchen making dinner, and that men can “allow” women to have full careers, Dear Ijeawele goes right to the heart of sexual politics in the twenty-first century. It will start a new and urgently needed conversation about what it really means to be a woman today.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (/ˌtʃɪmɑːˈmɑːndə əŋˈɡoʊzi əˈdiːtʃeɪ/) is a Nigerian writer, born on 15th of September 1977. She has authored several books that range from Novels to non-fiction to short stories. Adichie”s works earned her a description in The Times Literary Supplement as "the most prominent" of a "procession of critically acclaimed young anglophone authors who is succeeding in attracting a new generation of readers to African literature".
Adichie was born to an Igbo family in the city of Enugu, in Nigeria. She grew up as the fifth child of six children in the University of Nigeria, Nsuka, Enugu state. Her father, James Nwoye Adichie, worked at the University of Nigeria as a professor of statistics . Her mother, Grace Ifeoma Adichie also worked at the University of Nigeria where she later became the university's first female registrar. The Adichie family lost everything they had to the Nigerian civil war of July 6, 1967 – January 5, 1970, including her (Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie) grandparents, both paternal and maternal.
Chimamanda completed her secondary education at the University of Nigeria Secondary School, Nsukka, there she received numerous academic prizes. She later gained admission into the University to study medicine and pharmacy, but she only studied in the university for a year and a half. During this period, she edited The Compass, a magazine run by the university's Catholic medical students. At the age of 19, Chimamanda Adichie left Nigeria for USA to study communications and political science at Drexel University in Philadelphia. She later transfered to Eastern Connecticut State University so she could be near her sister Uche, who had a medical practice in Coventry, Connecticut. While the writer was growing up in Nigeria, she was not used to being identified by the colour of her skin which suddenly changed when she arrived in the United States for college. As a black African in America, Adichie was suddenly confronted with what it meant to be a person of color in the United States. Race as an idea became something that she had to navigate and learn. She writes about this in her novel Americanah. She received a bachelor's degree from Eastern Connecticut State University, with the distinction of summa cum laude in 2001.
In 2003, she completed a master's degree in creative writing at Johns Hopkins University. And in 2008, she received a Master of Arts degree in African studies from Yale University.
Adichie divides her time between the United States, and Nigeria, where she teaches writing workshops. In 2016, she was conferred an honorary degree – Doctor of Humane letters, honoris causa, by Johns Hopkins University. In 2017, she was conferred honorary degrees – Doctor of Humane letters, honoris causa, by Haverford College and The University of Edinburgh. In 2018, she received an honorary degree, Doctor of Humane Letters, from Amherst College. She received an honorary degree, doctor honoris causa, from the Université de Fribourg, Switzerland, in 2019.
In an interview published in the Financial Times in July 2016, Adichie revealed that she had a baby daughter. In a profile of Adichie, published in The New Yorker in June 2018, Larissa MacFarquhar wrote, "the man she ended up marrying in 2009 was almost comically suitable: a Nigerian doctor who practiced in America, whose father was a doctor and a friend of her parents”. Adichie is a Catholic and was raised Catholic as a child, though she considers her views, especially those on feminism, to sometimes conflict with her religion. At a 2017 event at Georgetown University, she stated that religion "is not a women-friendly institution" and "has been used to justify oppressions that are based on the idea that women are not equal human beings." She has called for Christian and Muslim leaders in Nigeria to preach messages of peace and togetherness.
Ngozi Adichie's original and initial inspiration came from Chinua Achebe, after reading late Prof. Chinua Achebe's "Things Fall Apart", at the age of 10. Adichie was inspired by seeing her own life represented in the pages. Adichie published a collection of poems in 1997 (Decisions) and a play (For Love of Biafra) in 1998. She was shortlisted in 2002 for the Caine Prize for her short story "You in America", and her story "That Harmattan Morning" was selected as a joint winner of the 2002 BBC World Service Short Story Awards. In 2003, she won the O. Henry Award for "The American Embassy", and the David T. Wong International Short Story Prize 2002/2003 (PEN Center Award). Her stories were also published in Zoetrope: All-Story, and Topic Magazine.
Her first novel, Purple Hibiscus (2003), received wide critical acclaim; it was shortlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction (2004) and was awarded the Commonwealth Writers' Prize for Best First Book (2005). Purple Hibiscus starts with an extended quote from Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart.
Her second novel, Half of a Yellow Sun (2006), named after the flag of the short-lived nation of Biafra, is set before and during the Nigerian Civil War. It received the 2007 Orange Prize for Fiction and the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award. Half of a Yellow Sun has been adapted into a film of the same title directed by Biyi Bandele, starring BAFTA award-winner and Academy Award nominee Chiwetel Ejiofor and BAFTA winner Thandie Newton, and was released in 2014.
Adichie's third book, The Thing Around Your Neck (2009), is a collection of 12 stories that explore the relationships between men and women, parents and children, Africa and the United States.
In 2010 she was listed among the authors of The New Yorker′s "20 Under 40" Fiction Issue. Adichie's story "Ceiling" was included in the 2011 edition of The Best American Short Stories.
Her third novel Americanah (2013), an exploration of a young Nigerian encountering race in America was selected by The New York Times as one of "The 10 Best Books of 2013".
In April 2014, she was named as one of 39 writers aged under 40 in the Hay Festival and Rainbow Book Club project Africa39, celebrating Port Harcourt UNESCO World Book Capital 2014.
Adichie's short story, "My Mother, the Crazy African" discusses the problems that arise when facing two cultures that are complete opposites from each other. On one hand, there is a traditional Nigerian culture with clear gender roles, while in America there is more freedom in how genders act, and less restrictions on younger people. Ralindu, the protagonist, faces this challenge with her parents as she grew up in Philadelphia, while they grew up in Nigeria. Adichie dives deep into gender roles and traditions and what problems can occur because of this.
In 2015, she was co-curator of the PEN World Voices Festival.
In a 2014 interview, Adichie said on feminism and writing: "I think of myself as a storyteller but I would not mind at all if someone were to think of me as a feminist writer... I'm very feminist in the way I look at the world, and that world view must somehow be part of my work."
In March 2017, Americanah was picked as the winner for the "One Book, One New York" program, part of a community reading initiative encouraging all city residents to read the same book.
In April 2017, it was announced that Adichie had been elected into the 237th class of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, one of the highest honours for intellectuals in the United States, as one of 228 new members to be inducted on 7 October 2017.
Her most recent book, Dear Ijeawele, or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions, published in March 2017, had its origins in a letter Adichie wrote to a friend who had asked for advice about how to raise her daughter as a feminist.