Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (born 15 September 1977) is a Nigerian writer. She 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”.

Personal life and education

Born in the city of Enugu, she grew up the fifth of six children in an Igbo family in the university town of Nsukka in southeastern Nigeria, where the University of Nigeria is situated. While she was growing up, her father James Nwoye Adichie was a professor of statistics at the university, and her mother Grace Ifeoma was the university’s first female registrar. Her family’s ancestral village is in Abba in Anambra State.
Adichie studied Medicine and Pharmacy at the University of Nigeria 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, Adichie left Nigeria and moved to the United States for college. After studying communications and political science at Drexel University in Philadelphia, she transferred to Eastern Connecticut State University to live closer to her sister, who had a medical practice in Coventry. She received a bachelor’s degree from Eastern, where she graduated Summa Cum Laude in 2001.

In 2003, she completed a master’s degree in creative writing at Johns Hopkins University. In 2008, she received a Master of Arts degree in African studies from Yale University.Adichie was a Hodder fellow at Princeton University during the 2005–06 academic year. In 2008 she was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship. She has also been awarded a 2011–12 fellowship by the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University.
Adichie, who is married, divides her time between Nigeria, where she teaches writing workshops, and the United States.

Writing career

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”.In 2003, her story “That Harmattan Morning” was selected as joint winner of the BBC Short Story Awards, and she won the O. Henry prize for “The American Embassy”. She also won the David T. Wong International Short Story Prize 2002/2003 (PEN Center Award) and a 2007 Beyond Margins Award for her short story “Half of a Yellow Sun”.

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).

Her second novel, Half of a Yellow Sun, named after the flag of the short-lived nation of Biafra, is set before and during the Biafran War. It was awarded the 2007 Orange Prize for Fiction. Half of a Yellow Sun has been adapted into a film of the same title directed by Biyi Bandele, starring Academy Award nominee Chiwetel Ejiofor and BAFTA award-winner Thandie Newton, and was released in 2014.

Her third book, The Thing Around Your Neck (2009), is a collection of short stories.

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.

In 2013 she published her third novel, Americanah which 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 celebrating Port Harcourt UNESCO World Book Capital 2014


Adichie spoke on “The Danger of a Single Story” for TED in 2009. On 15 March 2012, she delivered the “Connecting Cultures” Commonwealth Lecture 2012 at the Guildhall, London. Adichie also spoke on being a feminist for TEDxEuston in December 2012, with her speech entitled, “We should all be feminists”. This speech was sampled for the 2013 song “***Flawless” by American performer Beyoncé, where it attracted further attention.

Distinctions/Awards and nominations


Caine Prize for African Writing “You in America”Nominated

Commonwealth Short Story Competition “The Tree in Grandma’s Garden” Nominated

BBC Short Story Competition “That Harmattan Morning” Won


David T. Wong International Short Story Prize (PEN “Half of a Yellow Sun” Won American Center Award)


O. Henry Prize “The American Embassy” Won


Hurston-Wright Legacy Award: Best Debut Fiction Category Purple Hibiscus Won

Orange Prize Nominated

Booker Prize Nominated

Young Adult Library Services Association Best Books for Young Adults Award Nominated


John Llewellyn Rhys Prize Nominated


Commonwealth Writers’ Prize: Best Won First Book (Africa)

Commonwealth Writers’ Prize: Best First Book (overall) Won


National Book Critics Circle Award Half of a Yellow Sun Nominated


British Book Awards: “Richard & Judy Best Read of the Year” category Nominated

James Tait Black Memorial Prize Nominated

Commonwealth Writers’ Prize: Best Book (Africa) Nominated

Anisfield-Wolf Book Award: Fiction category Won

PEN Beyond Margins Award Won

Orange Broadband Prize: Fiction category Won


International Impac Dublin Award Herself Nominated

Reader’s Digest Author of the Year Award Won

Future Award, Nigeria: Young Person of the Year category Won

MacArthur Foundation Genius Grant (along with 24 other winners) Won


International Nonino Prize Won

Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award The Thing Around Your Neck Nominated

John Llewellyn Rhys Prize Nominated


Commonwealth Writers’ Prize: Best Book (Africa) Nominated

Dayton Literary Peace Prize Nominated


ThisDay Awards: “New Champions for an Enduring Culture” category Herself Nominated


Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize: Fiction category Americanah Won

National Book Critics Circle Award: Fiction Won category


Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction Nominated

MTV Africa Music Awards 2014: Personality of the Year Nominated

Other recognitions

2010 Listed among The New Yorker′s “20 Under 40”
2013 Listed among New York Times′ “Ten Best Books of 2013”, for Americanah
2013 Listed among BBC’s “Top Ten Books of 2013”, for Americanah
2013 Foreign Policy magazine “Top Global Thinkers of 2013”
2013 Listed among the New African′s “100 Most Influential Africans 2013”
2014 Listed among Africa39 project of 39 writers aged under 40

Text compiled and edited by Wole Adedoyin


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