I’m excited and nervous to be meeting Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Excited, because she is one of the world’s best writers. Half of a Yellow Sun, her novel about Nigeria’s Biafran war, remains one of the most enthralling pieces of fiction of the past decade. Nervous, because Adichie — at least the one who jumps out of the pages of Americanah, her follow-up novel about the experiences of an African woman living in the US — has a controlled, but cutting, anger.
Ifemelu, the book’s heroine and, one suspects, an alter ego for the author herself, is a master of put-downs on matters of race and gender. Worryingly for me, bumbling white male liberals get particularly short shrift throughout Adichie’s work. In Half of a Yellow Sun, Richard, an Englishman, embraces Biafra, learns Igbo and stays throughout the escalating horrors of war.