Winners

2007Fiction

Half of a Yellow Sun

Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie was born on 15 September 1977 in Enugu, Nigeria, the fifth of six children to Igbo parents, Grace Ifeoma and James Nwoye Adichie. While the family’s ancestral hometown is Abba in Anambra State, Chimamanda grew up in Nsukka, in the house formerly occupied by Nigerian writer Chinua Achebe. Chimamanda’s father, who is now retired, worked at the University of Nigeria, located in Nsukka. He was Nigeria’s first professor of statistics, and later became Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the University. Her mother was the first female registrar at the same institution.

Chimamanda completed her secondary education at the University’s school, receiving several academic prizes. She went on to study medicine and pharmacy at the University of Nigeria for a year and a half. During this period, she edited The Compass, a magazine run by the University’s Catholic medical students.

At the age of nineteen, Chimamanda left for the United States. She gained a scholarship to study communication at Drexel University in Philadelphia for two years, and she went on to pursue a degree in communication and political science at Eastern Connecticut State University. While in Connecticut, she stayed with her sister Igeoma, who runs a medical practice close to the university.

Chimamanda graduated summa cum laude from Eastern in 2001, and then completed a master’s degree in creative writing at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore.

It is during her senior year at Eastern that she started working on her first novel, Purple Hibiscus, which was released in October 2003. The book has received wide critical acclaim: it was shortlisted for the Orange Fiction Prize (2004) and was awarded the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best First Book (2005).

Her second novel, Half of a Yellow Sun, also the title of one of her short stories, is set before and during the Biafran War. It was published in August 2006 in the United Kingdom and in September 2006 in the United States. Like Purple Hibiscus, it has also been released in Nigeria.

At the moment, Chimamanda divides her time between Nigeria and the United States. She was a Hodder fellow at Princeton University during the 2005-2006 academic year, and is now pursuing graduate work in the African Studies program at Yale University.

She says her next major literary project will probably focus on Nigerian immigrants

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Class of 2007