Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
On Confidence, Passion and Curiosity
“I really feel uncomfortable with trying to force the past to fit certain shapes that we’ve crafted today. I really prefer to look at things in their context.”
Enjoy the great Nigerian-American writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie in this warm and open-hearted interview on what formed her from her reading. About being a child that didn’t mind her own business and later copying Enid Blyton as an aspiring young writer. But also about how Adichie uses passionate reading in her life and her work as a writer today. Read more …
“When I started writing, I wrote about white people, but actually, I was copying Enid Blyton because I was so fascinated by the world she created. The way literature can create longing. I longed to go exploring with The Famous Five. This series was my favorite.”
In recent years Blyton has become a problematic figure, being criticized for racism, xenophobia, and lack of literary merit. Adichie states: “I think it is a kind of snobbery. I don’t remember any part of the Famous Five that was offensive. What matters to me is that books give me joy. And she told me the power stories. If reading books could make me invent a world, I did not know. That is something. When I came into my own writing, I feel as though having had that beginning was useful.”
Today Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie still uses books and literature as a source of inspiration: “I just read lots of things and figure out what I love and what speaks to me. I am reading Deborah Levy. She is so insightful and real.” “Maybe it is because I am a storyteller. I am really interested in human beings, and I think about people, about their backstories and where they come from.“
“My husband tells me that I love passionately, and I hate passionately. And he is right.” “I was always curious. I was a child that didn’t mind her own business, absolutely. And when you are a child, it is not considered a good thing. I was always interested in just knowing. When the adults were talking, I would sit there and just listen”.
“I didn’t know I was confident until I was told I was confident when I left Nigeria. I think I was normal in Nigeria, but often in the US people would ask me: Where do you get this confidence from? When I was younger, even the posture of not caring is in itself a kind of caring, something has really changed. Motherhood changes you a lot, my daughter is six. I would choose what I care about and only I would decide that.”
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (b. 1977) grew up in the southeastern part of Nigeria. After school, she studied medicine and pharmacy at the University of Nigeria. At the age of 19, Adichie left Nigeria and moved to the United States for college, where she studied communications and political science in Philadelphia. Adichie has received numerous prizes for her literary work, including the novels ‘Purple Hibiscus’ (2003) and ‘Half of a Yellow Sun’ (2006). Her novel ‘Americanah’ (2013 won the US National Book Critics Circle Award and was named one of The New York Times Top Ten Best Books of 2013. She has delivered two landmark TED talks: her 2009 TED Talk The Danger of A Single Story and her 2012 TEDx Euston talk We Should All Be Feminists, which started a worldwide conversation about feminism and was published as a book in 2014. Adichie was named one of TIME Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World in 2015. In 2017, Fortune Magazine named her one of the World’s 50 Greatest Leaders. She is a member of both the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie was interviewed by the journalist Synne Rifbjerg in Copenhagen in June, 2022.
Camera: Rasmus Quistgaard
Edit: Signe Boe Pedersen
Produced by Christian Lund
Copyright: Louisiana Channel, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2022
Louisiana Channel is supported by Den A.P. Møllerske Støttefond, Ny Carlsbergfondet, C.L. Davids Fond og Samling, and Fritz Hansen
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