timeline

born 1977

Growing up in Nigeria on a steady diet of English novels, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie came to believe fictional characters had to have blonde hair and blue eyes. It wasn't until she read the work of the legendary Chinua Achebe, that she realized stories could be written about people like her. And, she could be the one to write them. 

After moving to the US for college, Chimamanda published her first novel, Purple Hibiscus, at 26. A tale of abuse + religious fanaticism in a privileged + outwardly respectable Nigerian family, the book so impressed Achebe that he dubbed her "a writer endowed with the gifts of ancient storytellers." Today, Chimamanda is using those gifts to write bold bestsellers that take on stereotypes + break cultural silences.

bio bits

her quotes

all quotes by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (24)

"We do not just risk repeating history if we sweep it under the carpet, we also risk being myopic about our present."

In the Footsteps of Achebe: Enter Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Nigeria's Newest Literary Voice | october 2003

"I think you travel to search and come back home to find yourself there."

I Left Home to Find Home | march 2005

"Is love this misguided need to have you beside me most of the time? Is love this safety I feel in our silences? Is it this belonging, this completeness?"

Half of a Yellow Sun | 2006

"You can't write a script in your mind and then force yourself to follow it. You have to let yourself be."

Half of a Yellow Sun | september 2006

"This was love: a string of coincidences that gathered significance and became miracles."

Half of a Yellow Sun | september 2006

"America is like a very rich uncle who doesn’t really know who you are. But all the same, you can’t help being fond of him."

A Nigerian Author Looking Unflinchingly at the Past | september 2006

"I sometimes try to remember the exact moment when I began to look at him with gratitude, and to learn from being with him that it is possible to have a kind of complete joy in the mere presence of one's father."

'As a child, I thought my father invincible. I also thought him remote.' | june 2008

"I came, as an adult, to deeply admire the contented simplicity in my father's nature . . . It simply does not occur to him to think of the Joneses."

'As a child, I thought my father invincible. I also thought him remote.' | june 2008

"The single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story...The consequence of the single story is this: it robs people of dignity."

The danger of a single story | july 2009

"Stories matter. Many stories matter. Stories have been used to dispossess and to malign, but stories can also be used to empower and to humanize. Stories can break the dignity of a people, but stories can also repair that broken dignity."

The danger of a single story | july 2009

"Show a people as one thing—as only one thing—over and over again, and that is what they become."

The danger of a single story | july 2009

"[T]he problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete."

The danger of a single story | july 2009

"I think it's the job of fiction to remind us of people's humanity."

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: Powerful Words | august 2009

"You know the story we sell to young girls wherein the prince gets on his knee and whips out a ring and then you start crying in gratitude? I think it's ridiculous."

African Voices: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie | august 2009

"Culture does not make people. People make culture."

We Should All Be Feminists | december 2012

"A feminist is a man or a woman who says, 'Yes, there's a problem of gender as it is today, and we must fix it.'"

We Should All be Feminists | december 2012

"I think my only responsibility as a writer is to be true. True to myself. True to the story."

Goodreads | may 2013

"I am a person who believes in asking questions, in not conforming for the sake of conforming."

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's Continental Divides | may 2013

"Racism should never have happened and so you don't get a cookie for reducing it."

Americanah | may 2013

"The simplest solution to the problem of race in America? Romantic love...Not the kind of safe, shallow love where the objective is that both people remain comfortable. But real deep romantic love, the kind that twists you and wrings you out and makes you breathe through the nostrils of your beloved."

Americanah | march 2014

"To choose to write is to reject silence."

Fear of causing offence becomes a fetish | may 2015

"I think of myself as a writer, I think of myself as a dreamer and I think what’s interesting . . . is that when you’re sitting there in front of your computer, hoping to write a good sentence, you really don’t remember that you’re black and African, you know, you just think, I want to write a damn good sentence."

Fear of causing offence becomes a fetish | may 2015

"The fear of causing offence, the fear of ruffling the careful layers of comfort, becomes a fetish."

Fear of causing offence becomes a fetish | may 2015

"Minister to the world in a way that can change it. Minister radically in a real, active, practical, get your hands dirty way."

Wellesley College | may 2015
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curated with care by Kathleen Murray {february 2015}