I think we can find something to admire in every author. Especially as an aspiring author myself, the very fact that they’ve ‘made it’ says a lot to me.
But there are a few individuals that also take the word ‘inspire’ to different levels. I’m particularly filled with adoration and awe by those kick-ass women writers that aren’t afraid to break out of the box or take on the elephant in the room.
Adichie is one such author.
She entered my life in 2011, delivered in the form of Half of a Yellow Sun. We were asked to read the book for a Craft of Writing module way back in my first year. I was reluctant. I knew what I liked at the blurb sounded like it was everything I didn’t:
“With effortless grace, celebrated author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie illuminates a seminal moment in modern African history: Biafra’s impassioned struggle to establish an independent republic in southeastern Nigeria during the late 1960s. We experience this tumultuous decade alongside five unforgettable characters: Ugwu, a thirteen-year-old houseboy who works for Odenigbo, a university professor full of revolutionary zeal; Olanna, the professor’s beautiful young mistress who has abandoned her life in Lagos for a dusty town and her lover’s charm; and Richard, a shy young Englishman infatuated with Olanna’s willful twin sister Kainene. Half of a Yellow Sun is a tremendously evocative novel of the promise, hope, and disappointment of the Biafran war.”
I was on a strict paranormal/YA diet and I was sure this would upset my stomach.
It proved a sharp lesson in ‘pride and prejudice’. This book completely took me over to the point that I spent two nights, almost sleepless, to finish it. So absorbed in the characters and the way the plot weaves in and out of them, in magical sways, that life literally went on hold.
And then I thought: Who is this woman? Who is this writer, that can capture me in such a devastatingly wonderful way?
Adichie says of her own beginnings:
“I didn’t ever consciously decide to pursue writing. I’ve been writing since I was old enough to spell, and just sitting down and writing made me feel incredibly fulfilled.”
Mmm hmm, who can’t relate to that? I found a renewed admiration however, when I bought Beyoncé’s new album. On track 11, ‘Flawless’, there’s an extract from a speech on feminism, and I was sure I recognised the ‘voice’. Not the sound, I’ve never listened to Adichie speak, but the rhythm of it. The intent. The way it made me feel.
2014 is proving to be a bit turbulent, already. But I try to listen to the Beyoncé track each morning and the combination of both powerhouse women helps me to remember my aspirations and goals for life, or just for that day.