Birthday: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Turns 44 Today!
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (born 15 September 1977) is a Nigerian writer whose works range from novels to short stories to nonfiction. She was described in The Times Literary Supplement as “the most prominent” of a “procession of critically acclaimed young anglophone authors [which] is succeeding in attracting a new generation of readers to African literature”, particularly in her second home, the United States.
Adichie, a feminist, has written the novels Purple Hibiscus (2003), Half of a Yellow Sun (2006), and Americanah (2013), the short story collection The Thing Around Your Neck (2009), and the book-length essay We Should All Be Feminists (2014). Her most recent books are Dear Ijeawele, or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions (2017), Zikora (2020) and Notes on Grief (2021). In 2008, she was awarded a MacArthur Genius Grant.
Early life, family, and education
Adichie was born in the city of Enugu in Nigeria, the fifth of six children in an Igbo family. She was raised in the university town of Nsukka in Enugu State. While she was growing up, her father, James Nwoye Adichie (1932–2020), worked as a professor of statistics at the University of Nigeria. Her mother, Grace Ifeoma (1942–2021), was the university’s first female registrar. The family lost almost everything during the Nigerian Civil War, including both maternal and paternal grandfathers. Her family’s ancestral village is in Abba in Anambra State.
Adichie completed her secondary education at the University of Nigeria Secondary School, Nsukka, where she received several academic prizes. She 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 for the United States to study communications and political science at Drexel University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
She transferred to Eastern Connecticut State University (ECSU) to be near her sister Uche, who had a medical practice in Coventry, Connecticut. She received a bachelor’s degree from ECSU, 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 2005–2006 academic year. In 2008, she was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship. She was awarded a 2011–2012 fellowship by the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University.
In 2009, Adichie married Ivara Esege, a Nigerian doctor. In a July 2016 interview, she revealed that she had recently given birth to a daughter.
Adichie divides her time between the United States and Nigeria, where she teaches writing workshops.