Afraid to Say…..

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I have been a fan of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie for many years. I was introduced to her work when I was studying in college and I was immediately hooked. I instantly read all of her writing that I could get my hands on. I also wrote about her and her stories many times over the course of my time in college. That is why I was so shocked and saddened when I heard that her father was recently kidnapped. It is strange when you hear stories about your favourite writers or musicians because although you don’t know these people you often feel like you do because their work means so much to you. Back in the beginning of May Adichie’s father who is 83 years old was kidnapped in Nigeria. James Nwoye Adichie became the first professor of statistics in Nigeria and he thought at the University in Nsukka for 50 years before he retired. It was reported that the kidnappers demanded 50 million Naira before they would release her father.

Kidnapping members of wealthy or prominent families is not uncommon in Southeastern Nigeria however the number of abductions has been declining in recent years. The kidnappers identified Chimamanda by name and asked that she bring them the money herself because she was known to them as a writer. She has spoken of her own guilt that her father was targeted because she is a public figure. Although it is in no way her fault or the fault of anyone but the people who commit these terrible acts it is an understandable reaction when your loved one has been hurt. It’s instinctual to try to protect the ones we love the most. Thankfully this story has a happy ending and her father was returned to his family unharmed after three days. The amount of money that they were forced to pay was never disclosed to the media. Continue reading

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Literary Review

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The working title for my dissertation is Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: Existing in Literature. It looks at gender, race and disability in literature. I am using Adichie’s work as the focus of my topic but I will also be using other writers to illustrate these points. The core texts by Adichie are Purple Hibiscus, Americanah, Half of a Yellow Sun and Thing Around Your Neck. This book is a collection of short stories so I will be using a sample of them in my writing. Her first novel Purple Hibiscus was published in 2003. It is set in post colonial Nigeria. It is the story of fifteen year Kambili Achike and her brother Jaja. They come from a wealthy family dominated by her devoutly Catholic father, Eugene. Eugene is both a religious zealot and a violent man. Because it is set in post colonial Nigeria it deals with many of the issues of race that I would like to discuss in my thesis. The fact that it is also told through the eyes of a child is also very useful. These issues stand out more and resonate with the reader because everyone can relate to the voice of a child no matter what age they are.

The second book that I will be looking at is Half of a Yellow Sun. This is her most famous novel. It has recently been made into a feature film staring Thandie Newton. The book was published in 2006 and it won the Orange Prize for Fiction. It is once again set in Nigeria during the time of the Biafran war in the 1960’s. It looks at the effect of the war on Nigeria. It examines how little notice the rest of the world took to the plight of the Nigerian people. The two main characters are sisters. This book will be useful because it examines these women lives by exploring themes of race and gender. Another one of the main characters is an English man named Richard. The perspective of an outsider is also very beneficial for my writing because it looks at the contrast between Nigeria and an empire like England. The differences between the way these characters are treated in society are of course very stark. This will allow me to demonstrate to the reader how people of a different race and gender were treated at the time this book is set. Continue reading

Mina Loy

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Mina Loy is one of the writers on our Modernity’s course this year. I have to admit she is one that I was not familiar with before the seminar. I was very intrigued by her because she is not the typical writer you would expect to encounter on the syllabi’s. For starters she had no formal or classical training whatsoever. She is an ambiguous character. Her education seems to have come from her reading, traveling and indeed from her own writing. She is also considered to be a feminist poet. Many of her poems seem to speak to many of women’s issues of the time. These issues are very relevant and contribute to many of the feminist arguments that still exist today.  Although she is regarded as a feminist writer her work was highly regarded at the time but she seemed to fade away slightly as time went on.

In addition to the class on Loy and H.D. we also had the opportunity to attend a seminar on Loy given by Sarah Hayden. The title of this seminar was “No Cleanly Matter: The Artist as Degenerate/ The Degenerate Artist in Mina Loy’s Insel.” “Insel” is Mina Loy’s novel. This novel captures a moment in time between a poet and a painter. It takes place in Paris in the 1930’s and it is an examination of two artists and the development and creation of their work. Even though It takes place at an interesting time in history it seems to focus more on the interaction between these two artists and on their work. Hayden also presented an interesting dilemma in her work as she is working closely on about forty pieces of paper that have been discovered  in Loy’s earliest manuscript. These are all hand written by Loy and offer further insight into her as a writer and into her book. This is a wonderful discovery but Hayden is presented with the difficulty of choosing what pieces of this treasure to present to the outside world. Continue reading