Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie interview on P&W

Photo by Okey Adichie

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, author of Half of a Yellow Sun, was interviewed by Poets & Writers magazine for this 'online only' article about winning the Orange Prize.

From a Poets & Writers interview with Renee H. Shea:
"Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie on Bearing Witness and Winning the Orange prize" —

P&W: You’ve written very frank articles about your feeling toward this idea of the West "rescuing" Africa. I remember one in the Washington Post when Madonna was adopting a child. Do you think your work and that of some of your contemporaries has a role in changing the view of the West as intervening to "save" Africa?

CNA: It’s not something I set out to do. I don’t sit down and say, "I’m going to write this book because I want to challenge this or that view." But by writing about the experiences of Africans—complex people in complex situations—the challenge inadvertently emerges. One of the reasons I have so much trouble with that view of the West having to "save" Africa is not that I don’t want help for my continent, which I do, but it’s because that vision seems to forget that Africans themselves have a role to play and can share initiative. What I like about the writing that is coming out of Africa now is that it really does challenge that view. For instance, if you read someone like Binyavanga Wainaina, who is my friend, you realize that rather than being a country where everybody needs help, Kenya is a country full of people who have agency.

P&W: Right now there’s such a robust community of contemporary African writers, like Chris Abani, Uzodinma Iweala, Helen Oyeyemi, Doreen Baingana. Their work seems very different in so many ways.

CNA: Absolutely, and that’s what I love about it. Which is why sometimes I am quite amused when people think we’re all the same. If you compare Iweala’s book with one of Abani’s novels, they are so different. It’s amusing to think everyone from Africa should be concerned about the same thing.


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