By Henry Akubuiro
Celebrated writer, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, was a sight for sore eyes last Saturday as she read from her latest offering, Notes on Grief, at Alliance Française, Mike Adenuga Centre, Lagos, in an event co-organised by her with her publishers, Narrative Landscape Press Limited.
The book reading commenced with an opening address from the French ambassador to Nigeria, Emmanuelle Blatmann.
Also in attendance were the French Consul General in Lagos, Laurence Montmayrant; Titi Adenuga, wife to Nigerian billionaire, Mike Adenuga; and other members of the diplomatic corps, literary, media and business community. Adichie’s Nigerian publishers, Narrative Landscape Press, were represented by their co-founder, Dr Eghosa Imasuen, who read the citation that followed the French ambassador’s introduction.
The multiple award-winning author wrote Notes on Grief in the wake of her beloved father’s death in 2020. At the book reading, she revealed that she wrote the essay, which was first published in New York Times, as a form of release and without the intention to publish, as she writes to express whatever she’s feeling.
Adichie has always spoken of how much she loved and adored her parents —Prof. James and Mrs Grace Adichie —and how their deaths in a space of months broke her heart. Notes on Grief is a poetic page-turner, laced with themes of meditation, remembrance, hope, familial obligation, allegiance, and loss.
During the book reading, which happened to be her first event of 2022, Chimamanda, who is one of Africa’s most decorated writer, read parts of the book to the audience. Thereafter, there was a Q&A session where the author fielded questions from readers and members of the press. The question and answer session quickly turned into an impromptu group therapy session, as readers opened up about their struggles with grief and how the book is helping them.
“I also just felt really heartened that people were talking about their own grief. Ours is a country where we’re often told to move on. So you’re grieving and someone tells you, ‘oh, sorry, it has happened. Just move on,” said Chimamanda.
“I’m grateful, because I think it takes, not just showing vulnerability, but strength to talk about these things,” she added.
The book event was wrapped up outside at the Alliance Française amphitheatre where more fans were waiting to get their books signed by the author.
Chimamanda shot to international limelight in 2003, following the release of her debut novel, Purple Hibiscus, which won the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize. Her second novel, Half of a Yellow Sun, (2006), won the Orange Prize. Her 2013 novel, Americana, won the US National Book Critics Circle Award, and was named one of The New York Times Top Ten Best Books of 2013. In 2020, she was awarded the Women’s Prize for Fiction Winner of Winners award for her novel, Half of a Yellow Sun.
Adichie’s work has been translated into over thirty languages. She has delivered two of the most viewed TED talks of all time: 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.