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Jonathan Ball

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Discusses Americanah and Contemporary American Novels

AmericanahJohn Williams from The New York Times spoke to Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie about Americanah. She discussed how her character, Ifemelu, is shaped by how long she is disconnected from her home, “I quite like that she is a female character who is not safe and easily likable, who is both strong and weak, both prickly and vulnerable.”

On the topic of contemporary American novels Adichie says that there’s “an obsession with ‘original’ for the mere sake of it, as though original is automatically good, and original often involves some level of irony and gimmick.” She continued, saying that she reads a lot of American novels and finds that often they are more about style than substance and say little about contemporary American life.

Q. Your first two novels were set in Nigeria, and this book takes place there and in the United States. Did you feel you had to live here a certain amount of time before you wanted to approach it in fiction?

A. I don’t believe in writing what I don’t know. So I feel, having lived in the U.S. off and on for a number of years, that I can tell a story partly about America. That said, the setting of my fiction isn’t a primary consideration for me. Character and story come first.

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