Chimamamda Ngozi Adichie speaks to Red magazine in a frank interview for the April edition of the publication. The Nigerian author whose words, “We should all be feminists” have been sampled by Beyoncé in her hit single “Flawless” and emblazoned across shirts on the Dior runway talks to the publication about beauty, feminism and motherhood.
The 39-year-old Nsukka native whose first novel Purple Hibiscus was published to critically acclaim when she was just 26, has written three more novels. Her most recent, Americanah, was optioned by Plan B, Brad Pitt’s production company, and will be made into a film starring Lupita N’yongo.
Adichie also sprung a surprise on fans in 2015 after she revealed she had given birth to a baby girl about whom she is still very private, but in her interview the writer talks about the joy of motherhood as well as fame, success and activism.
On fame and success
“I don’t actively remember the success. When I’m sitting down to write, I don’t remember that I won the MacArthur. What I’m thinking is, ‘I want to write a good sentence.’ I remember once being asked, ‘Aren’t you grateful? Aren’t you so lucky that all of this happened to you?’ and I was like, ‘No! I worked bloody hard!’ I don’t have the gratitude that women are constantly expected to have; a kind of gratitude that almost suggests you’re not worthy. I think my books are not bad at all. But my gratitude is because I know there are people that write well who haven’t been as fortunate.”
“It’s such a different kind of love. I wake up grumpy and then I hear her voice and think, ‘Life is good.’ It hasn’t been a taking away, it’s been an adding.”
“I think that if we all decide that, in whatever space we occupy, we’re going to make an effort, it makes a difference. I think of my feminism as one that wants to persuade. I don’t want to just throw theory into the world, I want to change a slice of the world.”
On her No.7 campaign
“I remember a friend of mine in Nigeria saying to me, ‘Nigerians are saying, how can you do this when you’re a feminist?’ The idea that I’m being questioned as a feminist if I’m doing a beauty commercial? There’s something really wrong with that. The idea is that femininity and feminism are mutually exclusive is nonsense. We need to start questioning why the standard with which we start is always a male standard. The serious dressing is the male power suit. Why? The serious standard is the make-up-free woman. Why? Why is femininity denigrated?”
Red is out on the newsstands now.
Dear Ijeawele, Or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (4th Estate, £10) is out 7th Marchby