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A pertinent literary voice, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is the author of several novels, essay collections, and short stories. From her world-renowned We Should All Be Feminists to her spellbinding novels, Adichie’s works are a must-read. For readers that love Adichie’s work, here are a few of her books that can’t be missed, as well as similarly captivating works by other authors.
Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Kambili is a young teenager in Enugu, Nigeria, whose parents ensure she has everything that others do not. A beautiful home, a family that cares for her and her brother, and a spot at an exclusive private school mark her life as one of privilege. Behind closed doors, her authoritarian father creates an atmosphere of fear and control despite his good reputation of being a generous man. Tragedy strikes when Nigeria falls under a military coup, sending Kambili and her younger brother to their aunt’s home outside the city. Unlike their own, their aunt’s home is a haven for learning, critical thinking, and exploration. After experiencing life as joyful as it is there, tensions escalate when Kambili returns home, and she must fight for the life she wants with the people she loves.
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Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
A heartbreaking novel, Yaa Gyasi’s Homegoing follows the bloodlines of two Ghanian half-sisters separated first in their homeland, and later by the evils of slavery. Effia and Esi are born in two different villages in the 1700s. Effia is married off to an influential Englishman involved in the slave trade, where she lives a life of relative privilege. Esi is imprisoned in the dungeons of the same castle where Effia lives, until she is sent to the Americas as a slave. What transpires are centuries of history, both in Ghana and the United States, as the descendants of Effia and Esi reckon with their histories, their cultures, and their futures.
Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Half of a Yellow Sun is a tale woven of three characters whose lives were forever changed by the struggle for Nigerian independence, a pivotal moment in African history. Ugwu, a houseboy for a wealthy Nigerian professor; Olanna, the professor’s mistress; and Richard, an Englishman captivated by Olanna’s twin sister are all in a small university town when Nigerian troops march in. Their distinct lives are intertwined as each must decide their political allegiances, ethnic alliances, and personal convictions. Within this story is the broader history of the end of colonialism and what independence meant to Nigerians throughout the 1960s.
Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue
Jende is a Cameroonian immigrant in New York City whose main goal is to provide for his wife and son. After struggling for so long, he secures a steady job as the driver for Clark Edwards, a high profile executive at Lehman Brothers. As Jende drives Clark around the city, the dysfunction in Clark’s personal life and stress from his career become painstakingly apparent. When the Financial Crisis of 2008 creates waves of defaults, unemployment, and worldwide suffering, Clark’s firm is at the center of the controversy. Jende and his wife face strained relations in their own lives, in part due to job instability, and also to an unbelievably difficult decision they must make before the story ends.
We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
A pivotal work in the understanding of feminism, We Should All Be Feminists is an essay that challenges each person on what it means for the genders to be truly equal. A prescient African mind, Adichie draws the conversation about women’s rights outside a Western context, and shows readers the incredible actions African women take to believe they are equal and live like it. With examples from her own memories and relationships, Adichie calls the reader to a standard of feminism that the world desperately needs, one where women of each nation are not left behind as activitists work toward a brighter future for girls.
How Beautiful We Were by Imbolo Mbue
In the fictional village of Kosawa, locals go about daily life with family and their community, just as they have for generations. The looming, ominous presence of an American oil company threatens their land, creating an atmosphere of repression and fear amongst the villagers. Their children are being poisoned by polluted drinking water. Their land is unusable from oil spills. The company claims they will make it right, but their promises are yet to be fulfilled. It is within this context that Thula, a girl who will become a revolutionary, grows up and ultimately fights for her people against all odds.
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Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Ifemulu and Obinze are brought together by a fierce young love as Nigeria is ruled by a military dictatorship. For a chance at a world-class education, Ifemulu makes the journey to the USA. Even as she is successful academically, she is faced with the struggle for the first time of grappling with what it means to be black. Obinze is left out of America in a post 9/11 world of vigilance and distrust, keeping him away from his beloved Ifemulu. In contrast to Ifemulu’s life of a high-achieving student, Obinze lives a difficult existence of uncertainty as an undocumented immigrant in London. After fifteen years apart, Ifemulu and Obinze make their way back to Nigeria in its dawn of democracy, and to one another.
The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Daré
The Girl with the Louding Voice, the debut of Abi Daré, is a poignant, powerful novel with an unforgettable protagonist. Adunni is a teenage girl living in a northern Nigerian village, mourning the loss of her supportive, beautiful mother. She wants nothing more than to finish school, but her father sells her to be the third wife of a much older man within the first three pages. What transpires is a tale of courage, survival, and the tenacity of a girl unwilling to succumb to forces that try to hold her back.
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